Aid flown out to cyclone victims
An RAF plane carrying aid has flown out today to help relief efforts following a devastating tropical cyclone in the South Pacific which has wiped out much of Vanuatu.
The package, containing 1,640 shelter kits and 1,900 solar lanterns with phone chargers, comes after the Government announced a £2m donation towards UN humanitarian aid efforts.
Cyclone Pam tore through the archipelago of islands with winds of up to 155mph and heavy rainfall causing widespread destruction.
A C-17 transport plane flew out from RAF Brize Norton this morning bound for the Royal Australian Air Force base at Amberley, Australia, before linking up with international agencies.
A humanitarian expert from the Department for International Development has also been deployed to offer advice and assistance on field assessments, while the RAF crew will carry out support flights over several days.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: " The terrible effects of Cyclone Pam are now clear and many people are in urgent need of relief.
"The Royal Air Force's swift and invaluable support will ensure victims of the cyclone get the help they need to start putting their lives back together.
"Families' homes have been destroyed and power supplies are down. Our emergency shelter kits and solar lanterns will help meet people's basic needs and Britain stands ready to assist further."
The country's president Baldwin Lonsdale estimated the cyclone had destroyed or damaged 90% of the buildings in the capital of Port Vila.
He said: "This is a very devastating cyclone in Vanuatu. I term it as a monster, a monster. It's a setback for the government and for the people of Vanuatu. After all the development that has taken place, all this development has been wiped out."
"So it means we will have to start anew again."