Northern Mariana Islands To Send Assistance Team To Chuuk

by Ulysses Torres Sabuco and Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (Marianas Variety): July 11, 2002 - 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.