Micronesia - Tropical Storm Chata'an OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 04 Jul 2002
Ref. OCHA/GVA - 2002/0133
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) - Tropical Storm CHATA'AN
1-2 July 2002

The Government of FSM has requested international assistance.

This situation report is based on information provided by the FSM Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the OCHA Disaster Response Advisor for the Pacific, supplemented by information from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent regional delegation, both in Suva, Fiji.

Situation

1. On 1 and 2 July 2002, Tropical Storm CHATA'AN (the Chamorro word for 'rainy') with maximum sustained winds estimated at 112 km/h hit Chuuk State (formerly known as Truk), one of the four States that make up the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in the Western Pacific. The State consists of 7 major island groups lying in the Eastern Caroline Islands (5 - 8 degrees North and 148 - 153 degrees East), about 1000 km southeast of Guam and 2800 km east of the Philippines. Its total land area is 118 sq. km and its population is 65,000.

2. The high winds caused heavy seas and broke power lines and the communications links between islands. The heavy rain flooded many of the islands in Chuuk Lagoon, particularly Weno, the state capital, Dublon, Fefan, Udot, and Uman. On the afternoon of Tuesday 2 July, the persistent rainfall caused a series of mudslides on Weno and other islands, that destroyed about 50 houses and damaged many more.

3. According to the FSM Red Cross, the death-toll from the landslides across Chuuk State is 40, including four women who were rescued alive but were dead on arrival in hospital, and two US military personnel. So far the Government has confirmed 20 deaths, but this is expected to rise as reports come in from remote villages and islands. Between 70 and 100 persons were injured and evacuated to the state hospital. Locals are still digging through the debris as more people are unaccounted for; up to 10 according to press reports. The rescue effort is made more hazardous and difficult by the poor drainage of the site, where there is still up to one metre of water.

4. According to a media report on 4 July, survivors are in dire need of food, water and medical supplies. Many of the seriously injured are unable to receive the medical treatment they need.

5. An unknown number of livestock was also killed in the landslides, and the large number of carcasses in the flood-water combined with the breakdown and overflowing of the sewage system is thought to pose a public health risk. Telephone and radio communications, aviation links, power and water supplies, where available in the affected islands, were cut by the typhoon. However, the power station is now functioning again, and aircraft have resumed flights into Chuuk. Although there are sufficient immediate food stocks in homes and local stores, the typhoon also damaged food crops, infrastructure and private property including fishing boats, posing longer-term problems for the inhabitants of the atoll.

National Response

6. Chuuk State Governor, Dr. Ansito Walter, has declared a state of emergency, and appealed for federal and international assistance. The Federal Government met in Pohnpei, the capital, on Thursday 4 July. The National Disaster Committee endorsed the declaration of a disaster and issued a general appeal for international assistance. On the same day the government despatched the deputy National Disaster Management Officer (NDMO) to Chuuk to coordinate the national response.

7. The FSM Red Cross Society is involved in the Government's assessment of the situation and in the coordination of the response. It is organising the distribution of relief supplies from its stocks in Pohnpei, that includes blankets, cooking sets, hurricane lamps, plastic sheets and water containers, in support of the state government.

International response

8. The FSM Government has requested urgent assistance from the US Government, particularly for medical expertise and supplies, and for assessment. OCHA has not received reports of international assistance provided so far.

9. OCHA has alerted the UNDAC Team in the Pacific and will be dispatching a small assessment team. It remains in contact with the relevant government authorities in the Federated States of Micronesia through the OCHA Regional Disaster Response Advisor for the Pacific in Suva, Fiji, and will revert with further information, if and when available.

10. UNICEF has a small office in Pohnpei and has a doctor stationed in Chuuk, assisting with the State's primary healthcare project. UNICEF Suva has managed to re-establish contact with him. The in-country UNICEF team is already supporting the national response through its existing channels and will work with the government and UN assessment teams as appropriate.

11. This situation report, together with information on other ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int

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