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By Scott Radway

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (June 7, 2002 – Pacific Daily News)---The Ayuda Foundation has secured more than $800,000 worth of medical supplies for struggling outer islands in the Federated States of Micronesia.

After Typhoon Mitag tore through the region in March, the outer islands of Chuuk and Yap states were left without basic food supplies. The storm ripped the breadfruit and bananas off trees and killed taro patches by filling them with salt water, outer island officials reported.

Without those food staples and with low water supplies due to the El Niño weather system, many people became ill. One person died in Chuuk, said one official. A food drive followed, during which the Salvation Army sent about 10 pallets of supplies. Foremost Foods also sent some pallets.

Now, Ayuda will send eight pallets of medicine and medical supplies -- donated by Kansas City-based Heart to Heart International -- to those islands, said Shannon Murphy, co-director of Ayuda.

"It feels good it is here and we responded to something that happened in our region, and now the medicine is going out to people in our region who need it," Murphy said.

The supplies are set to be flown Wednesday on a National Fisheries Corp. airplane for a nominal cost, Murphy said. Matson shipped the items for free and Triple B Freight Forwarders will load the plane at cost.

The only hurdle remaining is getting the pallets to the outer islands. Murphy said a ship is expected to arrive within the month in Chuuk and will deliver the supplies to the outer islands.

"Distribution is hard. We don't have the resources to do it ourselves; so we have to rely on the good will of others," Murphy said.

Murphy said a recent rumor that the last shipment did not reach its destination was untrue, although there was an issue with Chuuk officials who were concerned about the last food supply.

Murphy added that some Chuuk officials were concerned that the "sell-by date" on some items had passed, but Murphy said it was then explained that the "use-by date" had not passed.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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