Early reports from Vanuatu said at least six people were killed, and perhaps dozens more, as residents braced for a second night without power, after Tropical Cyclone Pam ripped through the tiny island nation in the South Pacific.
In the above video published Friday, Alice Clements, a UNICEF official on the ground in Vanuatu's capital of Port Vila, described the conditions in her darkened hotel room, as the Category 5 storm hit overnight.
"About 10 minutes ago, the entire balcony door on my bedroom smashed," she said, as strong winds whistled through the room. "I'm just holding on for dear life, here. This isn't fun. And all I can do during this is think about the people in Vanuatu who have absolutely no shelter."
Later Saturday morning, Clements told HDT by phone that Port Vila and other areas appeared to have suffered "catastrophic" damage. "There's still really strong winds. There's debris everywhere. There's buildings that are destroyed," she said.
As the day went on, new reports out of Vanuatu's 83 islands were scant. The power was still out, and many communications were cut for the nation's population of 267,000.
UNICEF said at least six deaths had been confirmed so far, and other aid agencies cited higher figures for provinces outside the capital.
#CyclonePam: 20 casualties & six fatalities reported so far in central Vila, 44 fatalities reported in Penama province— Ian Bray (@IanOxfam) March 14, 2015
The storm brought winds of 165 miles per hour or greater to some areas, although Port Vila likely missed the strongest impact.
Chloe Morrison, a World Vision emergency communications officer in Port Vila, told The Associated Press that authorities did a good job Friday moving thousands of people into 23 evacuation centers. With the winds and rain easing Saturday, many people stepped out only to find that their homes were missing a roof or had disappeared, and were forced to return to the shelters.
Morrison said the first priority was to ensure people had adequate food, drinking water and shelter. Beyond that, she said, there would need to be a long and concerted rebuilding effort in the months ahead.
Tags: CLIMATE, CYCLONE, CYCLONE PAM, English, VANUATU, WORLD