The Australian, By Pia Akerman & Rachel Baxendale, March 16
Aid has begun arriving on the cyclone battered Vanuatu archipelago but early reports of damage from category five Cyclone Pam are bad, as aid workers say their efforts are being hampered by the scale of the disaster.
A pilot who flew over Erromango island and landed on Tanna, told the Red Cross that residents were worried about access to clean drinking water, that all communications were out, and that their communities looked “flattened”.
“What he told me is that he could land – that was the first positive,” said Aurelia Balpe, Head of the Pacific office for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “But as they flew in and out they saw lots of trees uprooted and, what was most striking, all corrugated iron structures were destroyed as far as they eye could see.
“And all concrete structures that he saw no longer had a roof.”
CNN: ‘Unbelievable destruction’ reported in Tropical Cyclone Pam’s wake
News.com.au: Vanuatu: Cyclone Pam brings ‘catastrophic’ death, destruction
CNN images: Tropical Cyclone Pam hits Vanuatu
The Telegraph: Dozens feared dead after Super Cyclone Pam slams into Vanuatu, in pictures
The Atlantic: A Cyclone Destroys a Nation
ABC.net: Tropical Cyclone Pam: Death toll may rise after worst natural disaster in ‘living memory’
Cyclone Pam hits New Zealand
Stuff.co.nz, March 16
The threat of high winds, heavy rain and big seas remains as Cyclone Pam lies to the northeast of East Cape on Monday morning.
MetService said Pam was expected to lie about 150km east of East Cape by noon, then move away from the New Zealand coastline towards the Chatham Islands.
Gisborne was braced for the storm, which is expected to peak around midday.
“We’ve had a reasonable amount of rain already and the wind looks like it’s trying to pick up,” Gisborne manager emergency management Richard Steele said about 8am.
There were no reports of any damage.
Cyclone Pam slows as it hits New Zealand
3 News, March 16
A downgraded but still immensely powerful Tropical Cyclone Pam has slowed on its way to northeastern New Zealand, and forecasters now say it will hit hard around midday.
The cyclone which devastated Vanuatu has been reduced from the maximum category five to a category three storm.
But, RadioLIVE’s weatherman Richard Green says it is still likely to be packing winds up to 160km/h, which are capable of major damage.
He says winds pushed ahead of Pam have been recorded at Cape Reinga in the past few hours, gusting up to 130km/h.
“It’s seen some big gusts in the last few hours, and even though we should see it easing for parts of the Northland, it looks a little more [rough] further south – particularly in Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and the eastern Bay of Plenty.”
The Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Group Emergency Coordination Centre was activated at 5am this morning to support the response to Cyclone Pam.