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Micronesia: Northern Mariana Islands to send assistance team to Chuuk

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News and Press Release
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From Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai'i

By Ulysses Torres Sabuco and Haidee V. Eugenio
Variety News Staff

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 11, 2002 - Marianas Variety) - The Northern Marianas will send a recovery assistance team to Chuuk in response to its request for assistance.

Gov. Juan N. Babauta announced on Tuesday the CNMI's participation in the rehabilitation efforts in Chuuk, which incurred heavy losses caused by Typhoon Chata'an.

"The commonwealth government is conveying our condolences to the loss of lives in Chuuk. We are trying to help in anyway we can," Babauta said.

Acting Health Secretary Pedro T. Untalan yesterday said the Department of Public Health sent on Tuesday night a total of 300 lbs. of medical supplies and medicine to Chuuk.

Untalan, in an interview, said Continental Micronesia helped transport the medical supplies to Chuuk.

Chuuk State Hospital earlier declined the offer of the CNMI to send medical personnel, but requested medicine and medical supplies, including syringes, gauges and intravenous setups.

The governor had a phone conference with Chuuk Gov. Ansito Walter, who said the landslides had caused 42 deaths while injuring 71.

Walter said the death toll could increase.

Babauta said a group of utility experts and personnel from the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. will ahead for Chuuk to help restore the power lines toppled by Chata'an's winds.

CNMI law enforcers, for their part, will assist in Chuuk's ongoing rehabilitation effort.

Walter, in a letter to Babauta, urgently requested two 20-ton dump trucks, an excavator, a loader, a TD25 bulldozer or high truck, a sheep's foot roller, a steel wheel roller and a backhoe.

Babauta said the administration was assessing the condition and capability of the CNMI's heavy equipment and will determine how it can be shipped to Chuuk the "fastest possible way."

Lt. Gov. Diego T. Benavente said the Legislature is closely working with the administration regarding Chuuk's request.

SAIPAN OFFERS TO HELP ROTA, CHUUK

By Edith G. Alejandro
Staff Reporter

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 11, 2002 - Saipan Tribune) - The Saipan Mayor's Office expressed willingness to help Rota and Chuuk if additional assistance is needed to immediately restore the typhoon ravaged islands.

Mayor's Office Legislative Affairs representative David Rosario said the central government is on top of the situation, adding that there might be no need for the local government's assistance at all.

"I believe that the administration has laid out an effective plan on how to help the state of Chuuk. The central government is working on it. We have not received any official request but the Mayor's Office is willing to help just in case," Rosario stressed.

He explained that the government is looking at ways to be able to provide the needed heavy equipment requested by Chuuk. He also said that the local government is prepared to help should there be a need for more heavy equipment.

"Mayor Juan Tudela will decide on that but we are prepared to help anyone who would be needing our help. But so far, there has been no official request," Rosario said.

Earlier, the Chuuk government said the state needs two 20-ton dump trucks, an excavator, a loader, a bulldozer, a backhoe and a steel wheel roller to help it excavate and clear the landslides that have inundated several towns in the state.

Chuuk Gov. Dr. Ansito Walter has asked the CNMI government for help in the form of heavy equipment, and the Babauta administration is now assessing the equipment it has that could be spared for Chuuk.

Babauta said he has already discussed the matter with the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. and he expects to hear from the utility firm soon whether or not it has the available equipment. Babauta added that they will also determine how the equipment could be sent to Chuuk in the fastest possible manner.

In addition, Babauta said he is also preparing a medical team, utility personnel and law enforcement personnel who would be sent to the Federated States of Micronesia should the need arises. A CUC team may also be deployed to Chuuk to restore the power lines.

Typhoon Chata'an struck the Federated States of Micronesia on July 1, slamming into Chuuk with damaging winds of over 65 mph. Heavy rainfall and strong winds prompted extensive landslides. Most of the villages on Weno and the municipalities of Dublon, Fefan and Udot have reported fatalities and injuries from landslides. Chuuk was declared under a state of emergency on July3.

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