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Cablegate: Morakot Sitrep 5: Death Toll Climbs Again As U.S.

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OO RUEHAST RUEHCN RUEHDH RUEHGH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
RUEHSL RUEHTM RUEHTRO RUEHVC
DE RUEHIN #0996/01 2290943
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 170943Z AUG 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2131
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 4676
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 0159
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 000996

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 5: DEATH TOLL CLIMBS AGAIN AS U.S.
MATERIAL AID ARRIVES

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

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The estimated losses from Morakot
continue to mount, suggesting this could be the most deadly
weather-related disaster to hit Taiwan in fifty years. Relief
and rebuilding efforts are gaining momentum. The arrival
here of supplies provided by DoD received wide media
coverage. USAID continues to monitor the situation on the
ground in the worst-hit areas. The Taiwan Red Cross has
received significant donations from private sources, and is
working to coordinate its relief efforts with more than 30
local non-governmental organizations. End Summary.

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

2. (SBU) The official death toll from Typhoon Morakot stands
at 126 as of the afternoon of August 17. 61 individuals are
reported missing and 45 injured. Although media are
reporting that an additional 491 individuals are confirmed
dead in Xiaolin Village, which was destroyed by a mudslide,
our contacts note that these deaths are still pending legal
confirmation at the county level. That said, confirmation is
expected. It will raise the final death toll from Morakot to
well over 600, making this the most deadly weather-related
disaster to hit Taiwan since 1959.

3. (SBU) Agricultural losses are now estimated at over
USD365 million, with USD82 million of that amount
attributable to direct loss of agricultural land and
equipment, with the balance coming from loss of agricultural
products, particularly in aquaculture, poultry, and meat.
Infrastructure costs continue to mount, as well, with road
reconstruction making up the lion's share of the bill. All
national expressways are now repaired, with 93 provincial and
county roads still in need of restoration. The Directorate
General of Highways estimates it will take two months to
repair those roads. The Taiwan Railway Administration
reports that it will take six months to rebuild the bridge
over the Taimali River and restore to 100 percent southern
railway transportation. Authorities continue to shy away
from making estimates of total infrastructure repair costs as
they plan to open much of this work to tender. However,
Premier Liu Chao-shiuan has stated that reconstruction budget
requirements could reach USD3.3 billion, of which USD2.2
billion would be used for major infrastructure projects and
relief assistance. The Ministry of Education (MOE) reports
that over 1,300 schools have been damaged and 31 schools were
completely destroyed. MOE is arranging for alternative
instruction for the roughly 1,600 students with nowhere to
attend classes as the new school year approaches.

4. (SBU) There have been significant improvements in water
supply, with 31,885 households still suffering from lack of
access to potable water (down from nearly 1 million
households at the end of last week). An estimated 14,782
households are still without power, and an additional 3,848
are waiting for resumption of telecommunications services. A
total of 24,462 individuals were forced to evacuate their
homes as a result of Morakot and over 5,000 are still staying
in 53 shelters (many of the other evacuees were able to
reside temporarily with family).

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

5. (SBU) The Department of Defense, in support of the

TAIPEI 00000996 002 OF 002


Department of State, authorized U.S. Pacific Command to
provide assistance to Taiwan in response to the typhoon.
This response has taken the form of plastic sheeting, water
purification tablets, and medium- and heavy-lift capable
helicopters. The plastic sheeting was delivered to Taiwan on
August 16, and on August 17, a USMC C-130 landed at Tainan
Airfield at 1225 and departed at 1302 after dropping off a
pallet of 315,000 water purification tablets. A US Navy
MD-53D from the USS Denver arrived at Tainan Airfield at 1425
to conduct a pre-operation survey. However, the planned
aerial survey was canceled due to weather. Flight operations
in support of Taiwan relief efforts are tentatively
re-scheduled to commence tomorrow morning.

6. (SBU) USAID/OFDA Acting Regional Advisor Ron Libby
arrived in Taiwan on the evening of August 14. He met with
AIT Acting Director Wang, viewed Taiwan's Central Disaster
Operations Center, met with the Minister of Transportation
and Communications, and with Secretary-General Chen of the
Taiwan chapter of the Red Cross. On August 16, Libby
traveled to the south of Taiwan, where AIT/K staff
accompanied him to meet with relief officials and view
affected areas. On August 17, Libby was able to have an
aerial view (aboard a Taiwan helicopter) of affected areas
and seven tentative drop-off points for relief efforts.
According to AIT/K, the devastation viewed today exceeded
what Libby expected. It appears that use of USG resources to
reach some remote areas affected by floods and mudslides is
unlikely in the next 10 days. The U.S. helicopters will be
useful to ferry equipment into disaster areas to begin making
access routes from both sides. A longer-term solution may
require expertise on stabilizing mountainsides. Overall,
Libby felt that Taiwan rescue and relief workers were doing a
good job. AIT expects the arrival of Mr. Alan Dwyer,
Principal Regional Advisor for East Asia-Pacific, USAID/OFDA
on August 19, to replace the departing Mr. Libby and continue
providing assistance on relief operations.

7. (SBU) The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) is offering a
total of 112,000 temporary jobs in 45 affected towns and
villages for a two-week period to assist in clean-up and
reconstruction. The wage offered is roughly USD3.10 per
hour. The authorities continue to offer low interest loans
and cash payments to farmers and residents of affected areas
to assist in reconstruction and repair. The Executive Yuan
(EY) is considering a proposal to offer allowances of roughly
USD90 per month to typhoon victims, with a maximum of three
eligible persons per household. These allowances would last
for one year. Premier Liu has announced that the EY will
cooperate with NGOs to jointly build houses for typhoon
victims.

8. (SBU) Private donations have continued to pour into local
organizations, and particularly the Red Cross. NGOs around
the island have told us that financial assistance at this
time is more useful than material goods. The Red Cross on
August 19 will convene approximately 30 local NGOs to discuss
further coordination of relief efforts, particularly the
provision of services such as trauma counseling. The
American Club in Taipei has made a call for donations and
held a silent auction to raise funds. The American Chamber
of Commerce in Taipei has also made a public appeal to its
membership for donations, and set up a text-messaging system
to make donations.
WANG

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