16 Mar 2015

Emergency supplies being mobilised for Tuvalu

2:17 pm on 16 March 2015

Tuvalu can expect Red Cross relief supplies on Tuesday to deal with damage after the storm surge caused by Cyclone Pam.

Nearly half of the the country's population of approximately nine and a half thousand has been displaced by the flooding which washed away houses and crops.

The Prime Minister of Tuvalu Enele Sopoaga says most people living in the outer islands have been affected and at least one island was entirely flooded.

  Tuvalu - tidal surges 16x10

A storm surge from Cyclone Pam reaching Tuvalu Photo: Supplied

He says they are worried about hygiene and the lack of essentials like food, medicine and water.

"There's an issue of logistics and the delivery we need to strategise very, very carefully, and coordinate from now on. We are remaining on top of the issues, I think, and we are trying our best. We will remain as viligant as we can but we will welcome any help," he said.

Hygiene kits, blankets, water containers on the way

The regional head for the International Red Cross Aurelia Balpe says hygiene kits, blankets, kitchen sets and water containers are being flown in from Fiji.

"That will be sent on to some of the outer islands affected by the storm surges that we saw earlier (last) week. There are two or three particular islands that were badly affected and the government is sending a boat with those supplies mid (this) week."

The government is sending assessment teams to the outer islands most affected by Cyclone Pam to get a better understanding of the damage.

Mr Sopoaga says officials are working around the clock to monitor the situation and provide radio advisories to the outer islands.

"We have been relying on telephone communications only over the past five days. We are mobilising vessels to actually visit with a team, we call a rapid assessment team, to assess the situation on the ground. And I want to be informed exactly what the situation is."

Tuvalu - locals assessing damage following flooding

Tuvalu - locals assessing damage following flooding Photo: Supplied

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully says aerial surveys by a New Zealand defence force aircraft at the weekend show Tuvalu came through Cyclone Pam in better shape than Vanuatu.

"They've been hit substantially by high seas but it appears the damage to accommodation is nothing like that suffered by Vanuatu. We have had a request for some support in terms of medical supplies, and we're looking at how quickly we can manage that right now."

He says the government of Tuvalu seems to be able to cope and the international aid effort will be focused on Vanuatu.