'Cyclone Destroys A Nation'...
Torrential rain and winds reaching 295kmph (185mph) slammed the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu last Saturday.
The Atlantic reports that although the official death toll from Tropical Cyclone Pam is currently 24, the final figure may be higher: rescuers have been unable to communicate with outlying islands.
Pam destroyed schools, hospitals, downed power lines, flattened buildings throughout the country, and rendered thousands homeless. And even though many of the island's houses were built of lightweight materials and thus susceptible to damage by heavy storms, they were nonetheless family homes and the occupants are now without shelter.
Vanuatu is no stranger to major storms, but locals say they'd never experienced anything like this. The disaster's scale is unprecedented there and the people of Vanuatu are going to need a lot of help to rebuild their homes and lives.
Australia and New Zealand have sent military planes loaded with supplies, and have pledged millions of dollars in aid.
Vanuatu is a low-lying island nation considered extremely vulnerable to climate change. Roughly three quarters of the 267,000 population work in fishing and agriculture, two industries sensitive to rising sea levels and warmer temperatures. Prolonged dry spells have begun to threaten the country's water supply, while intense rainstorms have damaged staple crops.
Scientists warn against attributing single weather events to climate change, even storms the size of Pam. But an Australian govt report predicts regional cyclones will only become more intense.