March 18, 2015
Vanuatu aid effort cranking up
The New Zealand Red Cross has swung into action getting food, water, shelter and first aid materials to Vanuatu.
Secretary-General Tony Paine says the first containers went up on Sunday on an air force Orion sent to assess damage after Cyclone Pam
Winds averaging 240 kilometres and hour with gusts over 300 kilometres an hour devastated the island nation on Saturday, destroying buildings and wiping out food trees and crops.
There are about 80 islands in the group, many extremely remote.
"The authorities have been able to get aeroplanes over some of them and come back with disturning reports of there being very little left on some of those islands – vegetation completely destroyed, buildings destroyed, fishing boats destroyed. The urgency is to get supplies to those outer islands as quickly as we can and particularly to make sure there is first aid and first aid-equipped people. The other thing we have been sending up there are satellite phones so we can get some telecommunications established so we can get the needs clearly signalled back to the distribution centres," Mr Paine says.
He says in such disasters the Red Cross needs cash donations rather than goods.
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