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article imageState of emergency as super typhoon batters Micronesia

By AFP     Mar 31, 2015 in World

Residents of the Micronesian State of Chuuk were struggling to clear the roads of huge pieces of debris and return to damaged homes Wednesday as Super Typhoon Maysak cut a destructive path across the central Pacific leaving at least five dead.

Crops were ruined and water supplies contaminated, with fears people faced starvation if they did not receive aid soon, after the violent storm took three days to cross the vast Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

"Governor Johnson Elimo declared a state of emergency (in Chuuk) due to damage by Typhoon Maysak, including five deaths," FSM President Manny Mori said in a statement, indicating foreign aid would be needed to support relief efforts.

Map showing the forecast track for Super Typhoon Maysak
Map showing the forecast track for Super Typhoon Maysak
, AFP

He did not specify where the deaths occurred, but earlier reports said five people were killed on Chuuk.

There was extensive damage to "schools, health facilities, public utilities, private residences", he said, as well as "the sinking of several fishing, passenger and dive ships."

Hiroyuki Mori said he spent the day trying to clear the roads with other residents using chainsaws, adding that many families abandoned their homes and sought refuge in more solid structures including local hotels as Maysak pounded the archipelago.

"There were debris everywhere," the 27-year-old told AFP from Weno Island, which is part of Chuuk.

A ship rests on rocks after it ran aground during storms brought on by Super Typhoon Maysak near the...
A ship rests on rocks after it ran aground during storms brought on by Super Typhoon Maysak near the coastal village of Neauo, in the Micronesian state of Chuuk, on March 29, 2015
Hiroyuki Mori, AFP

"Trees fell on our houses and parts of the roof tore up. Everyone in my compound, which are all family members, suffered damage to their homes as well."

Maysak, with sustained winds of 260 kilometres per hour (160 miles per hour), slammed into Chuuk on Sunday night and crossed the vast archipelago of 607 islands before battering the Yap group of islands on Wednesday and heading out to sea towards the Philippines.

- Clearing the damage -

Maysak is forecast to remain a super typhoon "through to early Friday morning," meteorologists in Guam, 1,000 kilometres away, said in a bulletin Wednesday afternoon for FSM.

Satellite image taken on March 31  2015 shows Super Typhoon Maysak  tracking west-northwestward towa...
Satellite image taken on March 31, 2015 shows Super Typhoon Maysak tracking west-northwestward toward the Philippines
, NOAA/AFP

Many residents of the islands hit by the storm were now trying to return home to begin clearing the damage and rebuilding.

Officials said some houses were blown off their platforms, while other areas saw fruit trees destroyed.

"The immediate need is food, water and clothing," Manny Hechanova, associate director at the University of Guam Telecommunication and Distance Education Operation, told the Pacific Daily News in Guam.

"These islands are on their own, with limited food supplies. They may have to wait for three to five days and they may not be ready to wait that long. Starvation is a real possibility."

Super Typhoon Maysak destroyed buildings and temporary shelters as it smashed through the Micronesia...
Super Typhoon Maysak destroyed buildings and temporary shelters as it smashed through the Micronesian state of Chuuk, on March 29, 2015
Hiroyuki Mori, AFP

Weno Island resident Mori said locals had up to a week of food, noting that "many of our food producing plants are destroyed".

"We have a high supply of food right now because of the storm," he said.

"But they'll be spoiled soon. I give the food about a week. Or less maybe."

Victoria Bannon, North Pacific representative for the Red Cross, told AFP the charity was on the ground in Chuuk and Yap and "in full mobilisation mode".

She told AFP they had access to pre-positioned relief supplies such as tarpaulins and ropes for shelter, buckets, cooking sets and lanterns, while a ship full of aid set off from the state of Pohnpei on Tuesday, stopping at islands where help was needed.

A man stands next to the upturned roots of a tree that was toppled during storms brought on by Super...
A man stands next to the upturned roots of a tree that was toppled during storms brought on by Super Typhoon Maysak on the island of Weno, in the Micronesian state of Chuuk, on March 29, 2015
Hiroyuki Mori, AFP

Maysak, which comes on the heels of destructive Cyclone Pam that hit the Pacific nation of Vanuatu two weeks ago, is expected to weaken before it makes landfall in the Philippines by the weekend, the Philippines government weather station said.

The Philippines has itself not fully recovered from Super Typhoon Haiyan which struck in November 2013, leaving more than 7,350 people dead or missing.

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