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Cablegate: Morakot Sitrep 6: Humanitarian Emergency Passes,

VZCZCXRO5667
OO RUEHAST RUEHCN RUEHDH RUEHGH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
RUEHSL RUEHTM RUEHTRO RUEHVC
DE RUEHIN #1005/01 2302353
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 182353Z AUG 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2143
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 4680
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 0161
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TAIPEI 001005

AIDAC
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE ALSO FOR S/ES-O/CMS, EAP/TC AND CA/OCS, BANGKOK FOR
USAID/OFDA REGIONAL ADVISOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON AEMR CASC PGOV SENV XE TW
SUBJECT: MORAKOT SITREP 6: HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY PASSES,
TAIWAN MOVES TO NEXT PHASE OF RESPONSE

REF: A. TAIPEI 996 (SITREP NO. 5)
B. TAIPEI 992 (SITREP NO. 4)
C. TAIPEI 979
D. TAIPEI 974 (SITREP NO. 3)
E. TAIPEI 967
F. TAIPEI 966 (SITREP NO. 2)
G. TAIPEI 958 (SITREP NO. 1)
H. STATE 83578

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The death toll from Typhoon Morakot has
hit 127, with an additional 522 deaths likely to be confirmed
in the coming weeks. Taiwan is moving into a second phase of
disaster response, with operations focusing on sheltering and
relocating victims. USAID/OFDA Acting Regional Advisor Ron
Libby assesses that the humanitarian and emergency situations
have stabilized, and the major task facing relief workers is
opening roads into still-inaccessible areas. Taiwan has
adequate equipment to speed up the pace of current road
excavation work, but still lacks sufficient heavy-lift
capacity to bring this equipment into inaccessible areas.
Taiwan does not appear to have given thought to relocating or
responding to the challenge posed by at least 10,000
residents who refuse to leave affected areas that may once
again be hit by severe weather as typhoon season continues.
Although the heaviest rains to hit Taiwan in 50 years are
long gone, political fallout for the KMT continues, already
claiming Vice Foreign Minister Andrew Hsia. END SUMMARY.

----------------------
Human and Economic Toll
----------------------

2. (SBU) The death toll from Typhoon Morakot has reached
127. 307 individuals are now reported missing and 45
injuries are attributed to the typhoon. The Kaohsiung
Emergency Response Center is still seeking confirmation of
the deaths of a reported 491 individuals in Xiaolin village
and a further 31 individuals reportedly buried in Xinkai
village. 5,520 individuals are currently housed in 53
shelters, awaiting resettlement. 21,600 households remain
without stable access to clean water. 12,558 households are
without power, and an additional 2,666 do not have
telecommunications service.

3. (SBU) All five national highways have been repaired. 46
out of 131 damaged provincial highways and 37 out of 65
damaged country roads still require repairs. An estimated
100 factories in the Kaohsiung area have been forced to stop
operations every other day due to clean water shortages
following the typhoon. Local utility companies are working
to resolve this issue. The Executive Yuan is today convening
a meeting to pass a special budget for typhoon
reconstruction, with Ministry of Finance officials reporting
that at least USD3.3 billion will be required for rebuilding.

4. (SBU) AIT/K reports that in Kaohsiung County there are
over 1,000 villagers who are refusing to leave their affected
hometowns because the weather has improved and because 3-4
Taiwan soldiers have been deployed to each village to provide
assistance with aid distribution and communication links with
the outside. U.S. helicopters on August 18 began bringing
excavation equipment to six locations in Liu-Guei and
Lao-Nung villages. The excavators will be used to open roads
into these inaccessible areas. In Taitung County,
agricultural damages are estimated at over USD30 million, 285
households are still without access to clean water, and 73
households are without power. Chiayi County Deputy
Magistrate Wu Rong-hui expressed disappointment that U.S.
helicopters would not be bringing excavation equipment to
affected towns in Chiayi today, and noted that agricultural
losses in his county are estimated at roughly USD53 million.
In Tainan County, clean-up and sanitation work continues,
with agricultural losses mounting to USD62 million.

--------------

TAIPEI 00001005 002 OF 003


Relief Measures
--------------

5. (SBU) The Executive Yuan has decided that on August 19
the Disaster Reduction Committee (DRC) will take over the
second phase of disaster relief from the Central Emergency
Operations Center. Minister of State Tsai Hsung-Hsiung will
head the DRC. This move signals that the authorities are
re-focusing relief work on sheltering and relocating victims.
The Ministry of Interior has asked the Disaster Relief
Foundation to provide subsidies to victims whose homes were
destroyed by the typhoon. Victims can choose from three
subsidy programs: one for renters, one for home buyers, and a
third for government resettlement.

6. (SBU) Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to
donate another 100 million Yen (USD1.1 million) to typhoon
relief efforts after making a 10 million Yen donation last
week. Deputy Secretary-General Ma Xiao Guang of the PRC's
Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS)
will reportedly fly to Taiwan today to personally hand out
relief materials, such as blankets and sleeping bags, to
typhoon victims. Also arriving from the PRC today are
pre-fabricated houses for typhoon victims. News of this
particular donation has prompted some to demand the
authorities investigate whether these houses contain
unhealthy levels of toxic chemicals like asbestos before
allowing typhoon victims to move in.

--------------------
USAID/OFDA Assessment
--------------------

7. (SBU) AIT debriefed USAID/OFDA Acting Regional Advisor
Ron Libby today after his return from visiting affected areas
in southern Taiwan. Libby noted that the humanitarian
emergency appears to have passed, and Taiwan appears to have
sufficient stockpiles of food and water to meet basic
humanitarian needs for the time being. He added that there
doesn't appear to be any need for medical support beyond that
already on hand. The most glaring need he identified was
Taiwan's requirement to transport heavy equipment into areas
inaccessible by ground transportation. At Tainan Airfield,
Libby observed that Taiwan has placed earth-moving and
excavating equipment of multiple sizes and capacities at the
ready for transport into areas cut-off by mudslides and
washed-out bridges. Current lift-capacity available to
Taiwan from both domestic helicopters and on-site DoD
helicopters in support of relief missions are unable to carry
the larger equipment into the disaster zones. Libby assesses
that use of the larger equipment would allow road clearing to
occur at five times the speed of current road clearing
operations. Currently, only smaller-sized excavating
equipment can be lifted into inaccessible areas. Libby notes
that if roads can be cleared faster this would allow for a
faster and more effective tempo of relief operations.

8. (SBU) Other relief issues to consider are more effective
ways to deliver potable water to cut-off areas. Currently,
bottled water is being brought in by helicopter, which takes
away from the ability of the helicopters to fly in foodstuffs
or undertake other missions. Installing rain catchment
devices on rooftops would be a better solution, in Libby's
assessment, but the issue has not been explored adequately by
officials on the ground. (Note. USAID Regional Director Al
Dwyer who will be arriving tomorrow has water sanitation
expertise.) Libby states that diseases like cholera are
unlikely to become a problem, though there is some concern
about dengue fever. However, the Australians are bringing in
vector control solutions to address this problem.

9. (SBU) Libby adds that there are at least 10,000
individuals who have chose to stay in affected areas.
Morakot was only the second typhoon to hit Taiwan in 2009.
The Pacific typhoon season will likely see an additional 15

TAIPEI 00001005 003 OF 003


typhoons form, some of which may hit Taiwan. Libby notes
that it is unclear that the Taiwan authorities have thought
far enough ahead to make plans to adequately evacuate or
shelter these individuals if severe weather again threatens
their safety. Libby adds that lack of Taiwan inter-agency
cooperation has hampered communication and coordination in
local areas.

10. (SBU) ADIR comment on U.S. assistance: As a result of
this briefing, the two courses of action now being pursued
are: 1) to determine whether DoD has other heavy-lift
helicopters in the region that can be brought in to transport
the heavier earth moving equipment no on the ground in
southern Taiwan. This would have a significant impact on
relief operations. 2) to recommend to Taiwan rescue and
relief officials that they develop a contingency plan to
begin evacuation of the more than 10,000 villagers who remain
in the isolated villages throughout the area. USAID Regional
Director Dwyer is likely to deliver this message when he
meets with relevant Taiwan officials in the next few days.
WANG

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