Now being called the Pacific Ocean’s “worst natural disaster in living memory,” Cyclone Pam wreaked havoc on the island nation of Vanuatu on Saturday, killing at least eight people, with the toll set to rise, aid officials said.
Vanuatu’s president, Baldwin Lonsdale, called the category 5 storm “a monster,” adding it was a “major setback” for the country’s development.
As the authorities in the South Pacific nation struggled to establish contact with the worst-affected islands, aid agencies warned that thousands of people are in need of food and shelter.
Although eight people have been reported dead, casualties are feared to increase significantly. Some reports even claim it’s “impossible to calculate” the death toll because of the widespread devastation.
Save the Children director Tim Nelson estimated up to 150,000 people have been affected by the cyclone, adding of the 42,000 damaged homes, about 15,000 are no longer habitable.
“It was incomprehensible what was bearing down. No one here in living memory has seen anything like this,” ABC quotes Nelson.
Speaking at a United Nations world conference in Sendai, Japan, on Monday, Lonsdale said the storm virtually wiped out Vanuatu’s development.
“This is a very devastating cyclone ... I term it a monster that has hit Vanuatu,” he said. “It is a setback for the government and for the people of Vanuatu ... All the development that has taken place has been wiped out.”
Blaming climate change for the cyclone seasons that the nation had experienced, he added:
“We see the level of sea rise … The cyclone seasons, the warm, the rain, all this is affected. This year we have more than in any year … Yes, climate change is contributing to this.”
Here are some images of the areas affected by Cyclone Pam:
It’s not the first time climate change has been cited as the reason for natural disasters.
Developing nations often accuse industrialized countries and energy corporations of polluting the environment, which in turn causes global warming or climate change.
Just last December, following the devastation caused by Typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines, environmental organization Greenpeace launched an online campaign #RenameHagupit to rename the storm after one of the world's 10 biggest polluters, starting with Chevron – the American multinational energy corporation, which contributes to 3.5 percent of historic global emissions.