Death Toll In Chuuk Landslides Increases

by Dionesis Tamondong

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News): July 8, 2002 - The number of people confirmed dead due to landslides in Chuuk has increased, but an official count was not released yesterday by the Chuuk State disaster recovery office.

Some of those who died yesterday include people who were seriously injured, said Eric Paul, Chuuk State disaster coordinator.

The focus of relief efforts now is to deliver food, water, blankets and medical supplies to various municipalities, especially in the outer islands, Paul said.

At last report, there were 33 people confirmed dead and four people missing and presumed dead. The search for victims continues, but many rescuers have relented, he said.

"Some of the family members of those missing just finally decided to give up and let them rest where they're buried," Paul said.

The landslides were caused by rain from Tropical Storm Chata'an, which later became a typhoon and passed over Guam. Typhoon Chata'an battered Guam Friday with 100 mph-plus winds, causing massive damage and leaving the island without electricity, and with low to no water pressure in some areas.

Guam residents have contributed to the relief efforts.

The Ayuda Foundation yesterday packed 15 boxes of medical supplies donated by local doctors, pharmacies and the Naval Hospital, said Carlotta Leon Guerrero, co-executive director of the foundation. Those supplies were scheduled to be transported to Chuuk yesterday.

"Conditions there are worsening. They've exhausted all their medical supplies, and their (health department) personnel are exhausted themselves," Leon Guerrero said.

She said she has kept in contact with Chuuk's health department, which sent a list of supplies it desperately needed to the foundation, Leon Guerrero said.

Those items include bandages, antibiotics and anti-diarrhea medications, and total at least $60,000, she said.

The foundation also is trying to get help from nonprofit organizations in the U.S. mainland, she said.