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Cyclone Pam: Rescuers Battle to Reach Vanuatu's Far-Flung Islands

International aid agencies and rescue officials finally managed to reach the remote outer islands of Vanuatu on Tuesday.
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Looting fears in wake of a deadly cyclone prompted shops in Vanuatu to serve customers through metal gates on Tuesday, as international aid agencies battled to assess the full scale of the storm's damage.

The United Nations revised its previous death toll from Cyclone Pam down from 24 to 11 after it emerged that some victims had been counted twice, according to The Associated Press.

However, officials were only able to reach the remote outer islands of Vanuatu on Tuesday and communications were still down in many places. More than 80 percent of buildings were destroyed or badly damaged on the southern Tanna Island, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters in Canberra.

"We understand that the reconnaissance imagery shows widespread devastation," Bishop said. "Not only buildings flattened — palm plantations, trees. It's quite a devastating sight."

Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu on Friday and Saturday. Although recovery was ongoing in the capital Port Vila, many areas were still without power and communications on Tuesday. Some residents said there had been looting in the city, and shops took measures to protect their wares.

"Previously there's looting after the cyclone," Tenkon Williams, a shopper lining up at a gated store in Port Vila, told Australian state broadcaster ABC. "That's why there's no power, there's no light, that's why for security reason people have to stand outside, in every shop."


- Alexander Smith

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.