A terrifying tropical cyclone which smashed into Vanuatu in the South Pacific wreaked widespread devastation, aid agencies said Saturday, raising fears that dozens may have died in what may be one of the region’s worst weather disasters.

The full extent of the damage is unknown, with limited communications in place after Super Cyclone Pam, a maximum category five storm, slammed directly into the island country late Friday with gusts up to 320 kilometres (200 miles) an hour.

Cyclone Pam bears down on Vanuatu in this image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite taken at 1:30 p.m. local time (2:20 GMT). (Reuters Photo)

The UN had unconfirmed reports of 44 people dead in one province, and said late Saturday that there was no clear number of deaths or injuries but that the impact of the cyclone had been “catastrophic”.

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