A resident surveys his destroyed house in Port Vila, Vanuatu in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam on March 16. Vanuatu's President Baldwin Lonsdale said the cyclone that hammered the tiny South Pacific archipelago over the weekend was a "monster" that has destroyed or damaged 90% of the buildings in the capital and has forced the nation to start anew. (AP Photo/Dave Hunt, Pool)

(Bloomberg) — Vanuatu’s government declared a nationwide state of emergency after Cyclone Pam tore through the South Pacific archipelago, leaving at least eight people dead and severing communications with more remote islands.

“This was a cyclone that flattened houses and, unfortunately, to find missing people and those who are unaccounted for, it is going to take a huge search and rescue effort,” Chloe Morrison, a World Vision emergency communications officer, said by phone from the capital, Port Vila. “Connections have been down here, so we haven’t had any reports in from the outlying islands either.”

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