(Newsroom America) -- Relief agencies said they were taking all necessary steps to respond to the catastrophic impacts of a devastating tropical cyclone that affected most of Vanuatu over the past two days.
Several deaths have been reported with widespread destruction to housing and infrastructure.
"A disaster of this magnitude has not been experienced by Vanuatu in recent history – particularly in terms of the reach of the potential damage and the ferocity of the storm,” said Sune Gudnitz, Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Regional Office for the Pacific.
Tropical Cyclone Pam slammed into Vanuatu's capital Port Vila, on Efate island, as an extremely destructive Category 5 cyclone over the weekend.
Winds are estimated to have reached 250kmph with gusts peaking at around 320kmph, causing damage to infrastructure, impacting services such as electricity and leaving debris strewn across the capital.
A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team is expected arrive in Port Vila this evening. OCHA will also deploy three staff with information management, public information and humanitarian coordination expertise tomorrow as well.
Other humanitarian partners, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are also supporting critical areas such as shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, and protection.
The Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) coordinates expert human and resources regionally and globally should the impacts of a disaster exceed a government's capacity to respond.