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EU experts give high marks to relief work in disaster areas

EU experts give high marks to relief work in disaster areas

Taipei, Aug. 25 (CNA) Five disaster relief experts sent by the European Union to assess Taiwan's requirements in the wake of Typhoon Morakot said Tuesday in Taipei that there are no emergency needs in the storm-affected areas, as relief operations are being properly carried out.
"Everything that we saw on the ground seems to be firmly in the recovery phase. We saw no immediate needs, nor were we asked for anything, " Gordon MacMillan, deputy leader of the EU team, told the Central News Agency in an exclusive interview.
According to MacMillan, in its visit to the south of the country which was most heavily devastated by the storm, the team noted that considerable efforts were being made to meet the needs of all the survivors.
The work in progress includes putting people in contact with their families, looking after those who need to be relocated, and searching for missing people, he said.
"We have been impressed by those considerable efforts, " said MacMillan, who is a professional fire and rescue officer and has participated in international disaster relief operations for eight years.
The team received no requests for civil protection assistance, he said.
The five-member EU team, which arrived in Taiwan on Aug. 17, first visited the Central Emergency Operation Center in Taipei to get an overview of the casualties and destruction caused by Typhoon Morakot, one of the worst natural disasters to hit Taiwan in half a century.
The team members then went to southern Taiwan to see for themselves the severity of the damage and evaluate what kind of help the EU can offer Taiwan.
The team, which was assigned to help address emergencies in Taiwan, was assembled at the initiative of the European Commission's Community Mechanism for Civil Protection.
Noting that the emergency phase is firmly over and the recovery phase has commenced, MacMillan said that his mission has had good cooperation with local authorities, people and other organizations.
He described the existing operational structure in Taiwan as "outstanding, " saying that the central and local emergency operation centers are cooperating well in the disaster relief efforts.
The team was impressed by the number of volunteers and officials on site, he said.
However, the team thinks that it will take some time for the country to rebuild its critical infrastructures, such as roads and bridges, MacMillan said.
Thomas Hernes, a Swedish medical officer on the EU team, said that clean water should not be a problem in the disaster areas, as Taiwan’s water company has taken quick action to restore supply in most areas.
Moreover, the Swedish government, which currently holds the EU presidency, had also donated 4,600 bottles of water purification drops as a temporary solution to provide storm victims with clean water, Hernes said. A second batch of the drops is scheduled to arrive in the country on Aug. 27, he added.
Roger Valberg, head of the EU team, said that in addition to its daily situation reports, the team will deliver a final report to the EU when it returns to Brussels at the end of the week. On the basis of these reports and briefings, the EU will decide what to do next, he said.
Typhoon Morakot lashed Taiwan Aug.7-9, dumping massive amounts of rain on the southern parts of the country. The storm killed over 160 people, and left 45 injured and nearly 500 unaccounted for.
Agricultural losses are estimated at more than NT$ 14.6 billion (US$444 million).
(By Rachel Chan)




Updated : 2021-03-03 18:45 GMT+08:00