Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (2 - 8 February 2016)
A 6.4M earthquake of shallow depth (28 km) struck Taiwan Province of China at 03:57 (local time) on Saturday 6 Feb. The southern city of Tainan (population approximately 2 million) near the epicentre has been most affected, with a number of structures severely damaged by the earthquake including a 16-story residential complex, which has been the focus of search-and-rescue efforts. As of 8 Feb, local authorities confirmed at least 37 deaths, all but two from the collapsed residential complex. Some 530 people had been reported as injured, 87 of whom remain hospitalized, with another 117 people unaccounted for. Search and rescue operations are ongoing at the site of the collapse residential complex, supported by some 3,500 local responders. No request for international assistance has been received to date.
37 people dead
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
While the arrival of mid-January rains have temporarily eased the water supply situation in certain parts of the country, severe food and water insecurity persists in various locations including remote Western Province, inland Gulf Province, and high-altitude locations. The situation is particularly aggravated in communities living in dispersed remote areas, which can only be reached by foot or air, and where access remains a major logistical and financial challenge. Last week, the Government facilitated the provision of US$ 130,000 worth of food relief to Western Province while an additional 345 metric tons of food supplies (purchased by the Ok Tedi Foundation) arrived in the Province for onward distribution to three districts.
REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS (RMI )
The Marshall Islands has become the first country in the Pacific to declare a State of Emergency in relation to the El Niño drought. The RMI Government has developed a US$8.25 million Drought Response Plan aimed at mitigating the impacts of extremely low rainfall forecast through until July 2016. The RMI Government estimates that approximately 12,231 people, or 23% of the total population, are experiencing severe drought conditions. Priority needs include improving access to clean drinking water and basic hygiene to reduce disease outbreaks.
12,000 people affected
Tonga has officially declared an outbreak of Zika Virus following the first positive test results from 265 suspected cases that are under investigation. Tongan Health officials advise that public messaging is underway, and an Epidemic Taskforce has been established. A national clean-up of breeding sites has been initiated and surveillance has been stepped up, especially for pregnant mothers. Zika has been seen in various parts of the Pacific since 2007. WHO advises that all countries and territories in the Pacific are vulnerable to the introduction of Zika virus because the main Aedes mosquito vector is present in most parts of the region.
About 27,300 farmers across 4 provinces are affected by drought and rat infestation in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Maguindanao province declared a state of calamity on 29 Jan due to widespread drought affecting farming villages. Priority needs are food, drinking water supply and medical aid. In light of El Niño continuing to affect the Philippines, authorities in Maguindanao met with humanitarian partners to plan for assessments and response.
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