Rescue teams reach cyclone-stricken Vanuatu islands, official toll lowered




 
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March 17th, 2015  
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Topic: Rescue teams reach cyclone-stricken Vanuatu islands, official toll lowered


By Stephen Coates TANNA, Vanuatu (Reuters) - Residents of the main town in the southern Vanuatu island of Tanna appear to have come through the worst of the cyclone that tore through the South Pacific nation with widespread devastation but not the heavy death toll initially feared. Disaster management officials and relief workers are still battling to get rescue teams on many of the islands that bore the brunt of Cyclone Pam's gusts of more than 300 kph (185 mph) on Friday and Saturday. With communications cut off and reconnaissance flights revealing destroyed houses, shredded forests and damaged buildings, international aid agencies had been particularly worried about Tanna, which took the full force of the storm. The United Nations said on Tuesday the official death toll from the cyclone was 11, revising down its earlier figure of 24, but many officials anticipate that number will rise once they are able to more thoroughly inspect the outer islands of the scattered archipelago.




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