It is believed that hundreds and possibly thousands of people have been killed when Tropical Cyclone Pam unexpectedly changed course and passed directly over the island nation of Vanuatu, bringing with it sustained winds of 175 mph and gusts well over 200 mph. "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, who heads the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the Pacific. So far, 44 people are confirmed dead, but most areas of the low-lying country still cannot be reached.
Because Vanuatu has been severely impacted by rising sea levels, the situation is thought to be extremely serious. Aid workers on the scene are reporting "unbelievable destruction." It is the worst storm to make landfall in the Pacific since Supertyphoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in 2013. The most populated islands in the chain have taken a direct hit from the storm. Because of the fact that they lie at sea level, extraordinary flooding is taking place. With wind gusts up to 200 mph.