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Cablegate: Morakot Death Toll Reaches 117 As Taiwan Welcomes

VZCZCXRO2439
OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHIN #0992/01 2260924
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 140924Z AUG 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2123
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 4670
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 0157
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 02 TAIPEI 000992

AIDAC
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON AEMR CASC PGOV SENV XE TW
SUBJECT: MORAKOT DEATH TOLL REACHES 117 AS TAIWAN WELCOMES
INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE

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

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The death toll from Typhoon Morakot has
reached 117 individuals. The agricultural sector has lost an
estimated USD300 million, and road repair costs are already
topping USD420 million. Local areas see continued
improvements in infrastructure and sanitation conditions as
rescue and relief crews move into smaller towns and villages.
The Executive Yuan announced that Taiwan welcomes foreign
nations to provide material support to relief efforts. USAID
Acting Regional Advisor Ron Libby arrives in Taiwan on August
14 for a four-day visit to Taipei and affected areas in the
south. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) The death toll from Typhoon Morakot has climbed to
117, with 45 individuals reported injured, 59 known to be
missing and hundreds more unaccounted for (mainly in remote
mountain villages). The death toll is nearly double what
official Taiwan sources reported 24 hours ago. A total of
2,2000 individuals have been found and rescued from the most
severely affected villages in Kaohsiung County. In Xiaolin
Village, where over 400 residents may have been buried under
mudslides, 142 individuals have been rescued and temporary
road access to the town has been established. Rescue teams
are now walking into the village to search for more survivors
and victims.

3. (SBU) Economic losses are also mounting, now estimated at
over USD300 million for the agricultural sector alone. The
Council of Agriculture estimates it will take at least six
months to rehabilitate agricultural production to pre-typhoon
levels. The largest agricultural losses occurred in
Pingtung, Kaohsiung, and Tianan counties (combined total
damage of USD190 million). Estimated road repair costs have
already exceeded USD420 million, and final infrastructure
costs are expected to be many times that amount. A contact
at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC)
tells us that much of the repair work will be opened to
tender, and MOTC therefore does not want to speculate on what
the total cost of infrastructure repair could be.

4. (SBU) AIT/K reports that in Kaohsiung County there are
nearly 16,000 military personnel involved in rescue and
relief operations, as well as 37 medical doctors and 120
nurses. 7,000 hectares of farmland have been destroyed. In
Taitung County, most telecommunications have been restored
and helicopters are dropping food supplies to cut-off
villages. In Pingtung County, dead livestock has been mostly
cleared and operations now are focusing on mud removal from
residential areas. The situation in Chiayi County is
improving with the arrival of more military personnel and
helicopters. Tainan County is also seeing an improving
situation, with water levels in towns and villages receding
and road and bridge repair work in full swing.

5. (SBU). The Executive Yuan announced that Taiwan welcomes
foreign nations to provide material support to relief
efforts, including large helicopters to carry earth moving
equipment, chlorine tablets, disinfectant, and portable
sterilization equipment. Japan and the EU have approached
AIT, asking about the possibility of coordinating
contributions. The EU has activated its community action
mechanism, through which member states will try to meet the
requirements identified in the international appeal Taiwan
issued yesterday. However, none of the member states are
considering meeting the helicopter request.

6. (SBU) AIT is expecting the arrival of Bangkok-based
USAID Acting Regional Advisor Ron Libby for a four-day visit
to Taipei and affected areas in the south. Mr. Libby is
tentatively scheduled to meet in Taipei with Red Cross

TAIPEI 00000992 002 OF 002


officials, MOTC and rescue and relief officials, and a
representative from the EU. AIT/K is working on a schedule
of meetings and opportunities to view affected areas for
August 16-17.
WANG

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