Late MP’s son on island devastated by cyclone
The son of a Bermuda political activist and MP was caught up in a massive cyclone that devastated a chain of Pacific islands at the weekend, The Royal Gazette can reveal.
Cyclone Pam, one of the biggest to make landfall, devastated Vanuatu, home to Baizum Kamarakafego, the son of the late Dr Pauulu Kamarakafego, also known as Dr Roosevelt Brown.
At least eight have been killed in the capital area. It is feared that more people have died in outlying islands, but it appeared last night that Mr Kamarakafego had survived unscathed.
Baizum Kamarakafego lived in Bermuda for several years and worked in construction. He also served in the Bermuda Regiment before returning to Vanuatu.
Relative Keisha Webb, of Devonshire, said it appeared that Mr Kamarakafego had survived the massive category five cyclone — which devastated the island chain's capital, Port Vila, and caused massive damage in the group of 65 islands — after a friend in Vanuatu posted an update to say that he had seen him after the storm hit early on Saturday morning local time.
“He lived here for several years during the last decade,” Ms Webb said. “I didn't realise he had left Bermuda.
“I haven't seen him for two or three years. I heard later he had gone home.”
Mr Kamarakafego arrived in Bermuda in the early 2000s and stayed here for several years.
Ms Webb said: “We have kept in touch on Facebook since, but I haven't spoken to him recently.
“All I kept thinking was that someone must have spotted him and updated Facebook — with all the damage, obviously, he won't have any communications. That's the only update we've had in a while.
“The safety check is a good sign that he's all right.”
Dr Kamarakafego, an ecological engineer who died in 2007, was Ms Webb's great-uncle and met Baizum's mother while he was working for the United Nations in the island archipelago, which has a population of 267,000.
Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu after veering off its predicted course and caused huge damage in Port Vila, destroying about 90 per cent of its buildings, wrecking communications and badly damaging the main airport.
Baldwin Lonsdale, the president of Vanuatu who was abroad at a conference when the cyclone struck, told the BBC that Pam was “a monster”.
A state of emergency has been declared and the first aid teams from Australia and New Zealand arrived yesterday after the airport was cleared for landings.
Britain, France, the UN and the European Union have also pledged assistance to the islands.
Dr Kamarakafego was a leading civil rights leader in Bermuda in the 1950s and 1960s and became a Member of Parliament for the Progressive Labour Party from 1968 to 1972.
He was also an award-winning expert in ecological and environmental engineering, and worked around the globe.
Dr Kamarakafego died in Bermuda in 2007, aged 75.