The United Nations has dispatched two disaster assessment teams to East Asia to evaluate the most urgent humanitarian needs in the wake of Typhoon Morakot, which has killed hundreds of people and damaged tens of thousands of homes and wide swathes of farmland.
The UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) missions have been sent to Beijing and Taipei respectively and are working there with local authorities and aid organizations, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today.
The teams have been tasked with assessing where the international community can best provide additional assistance following the disaster and also how to help authorities prepare for future typhoons.
Authorities say that nearly 500 people are confirmed to have died so far, while some 250 others are still listed as missing, three weeks after the typhoon struck. Search and rescue operations are ongoing in Taiwan, Province of China, one of the hardest hit areas, and where helicopters and ferries have been delivering supplies to remote or cut-off villages.
Mainland China has also suffered damage, with Fujian, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Anhui and Ziangsu provinces considered the worst hit. In total, more than 15 million people are estimated to be affected by the typhoon, with tens of thousands forced from their homes because of the damage inflicted by the extreme winds and heavy rainfall.