Monday, March 6, 2023

VSAT connects Tanna and Aneityum to outside world

Tropical Cyclone (TC) Judy caused extensive damage to infrastructure and homes in the southern islands of Tanna, Aneityum, and Erromango in Vanuatu. The cyclone knocked out telecommunication networks in the affected areas, leaving residents cut off from the outside world.

Despite this, Williams Worwor from the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) was able to provide updates on the situation using satellite-based Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT). He confirmed that both the Digicel and Vodafone networks were down in Tanna, and he was using VSAT to relay information to the outside world.

Photos shared by Mr. Worwor on Facebook showed the destruction caused by the cyclone in the Lenakel area, including thick earth blocking the road to Isangel. Meanwhile, Selwyn Daniel, the Aneityum Area Administrator, also confirmed that both telecommunication networks were down since Wednesday night, and he was communicating through VSAT.

Mr. Daniel reported that the destruction on parts of Aneityum that he visited yesterday was not as severe as expected. There was no flash flooding reported, although most rivers rose higher than their level before reducing to their normal level. However, the island’s residents are facing a significant challenge in the coming days as their root crops may spoil soon.

On Erromango, the Category 4 cyclone caused significant damage. The Area Secretary for North Erromango, Remy Nambill, reported that most family homes on the southern part of the island were destroyed, and there was flash flooding and damaged gardens. One incident involved a tree falling on a family home and injuring a mother. Food security will be a significant concern for the island’s residents in the coming days.

Families whose homes were destroyed have relocated to the nearest settlements as they await Cyclone Kevin. The TAFEA Provincial Secretary General and Minister of Sports, MP Tomker Netvunei, are aware of the situation on the ground. However, with telecommunication networks down, the recovery efforts may face significant challenges.

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