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Devastation in Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam

The deadly cyclone Pam ripped through the tiny island nation of Vanuatu last Friday, 13th March 2015 with winds of over 300 kilometres an hour, leaving behind devastation and chaos. Over the weekend the Australian media broadcasted a few images from Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila showing destroyed homes and uprooted trees. Seven people have been reported dead so far but the number will probably increase in the coming hours and days.

First images on Monday morning from Tanna Island, one of the outer islands of Vanuatu, shows similar devastation, entire villages flattened, uprooted trees, and permanent buildings with roofs blown off.

The pilot who took the first images of the devastation on Tanna on Sunday said that situation looks bad. “We know that the eye of the cyclone was right on top of the islands,” he reported on Monday.

Tanna is the home of two SVD confreres and three Holy Spirit Sisters. We are very concerned about Fr. Olivier Noclam, (formerly MEX-Cuba) who has been on home leave in Tanna since December 2014, waiting for his visa to Australia. I talked to him on Thursday, informing him that his visa for Australia has just been granted and we are expecting him to arrive in Australia after Easter. We are worried about his wellbeing and of course the wellbeing of all the people on Tanna, especially the families of our SVDs and of our SSpS sisters presently in formation in Australia.

We will keep trying to contact Olivier today and over the next few days and hope that he and his family are safe. Yesterday I called Br. Vincent Iopam, SVD, originally from Tanna but working in the Philippines and assured him about our prayers for the victims of the cyclone in Vanuatu, especially in Tanna. Vincent is very worried about his family and has been trying to contact his family over the past two days.

Let us keep Olivier, the people of Tanna and Vanuatu in our prayers.

Henry Adler, SVD
AUS Provincial