GUAM TEAM OF PHYSICIANS VISITS CHUUK, FSM

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By David Crisostomo

WENO, Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia (July 9, 2002 – Pacific Daily News)---A team of Guam doctors arrived here yesterday to assist Chuuk surgeons in treating victims of last week's landslides.

The death toll rose to 38 as of yesterday afternoon, according to Chuuk's Department of Health.

But officials expect that number will increase as disaster teams continue their assessments of the islands in Chuuk State in the Federated States of Micronesia throughout this week.

More than 30 landslides were triggered by rain from Tropical Storm Chata'an, which later became a typhoon and passed over Guam with 100 mph-plus winds causing severe damage.

"Many of the families have given up on recovering the bodies of their relatives," said Health Director Nachsa Siren.

"Now we must focus on helping the survivors."

The Guam team is led by Dr. Michael Cruz, a surgeon and president of the nonprofit Ayuda Foundation.

"We will help with additional orthopedic and trauma surgery. Looking at many of those injured, some will need amputations," Cruz said. "We will be here until Thursday, and we are going to do all we can to try to help."

Cruz was joined by Dr. Brent Thiel, an orthopedic surgeon, and family practitioner Dr. Robert Hunter, both of Naval Hospital in Guam.

Also accompanying the surgeons are registered nurse Jennifer Rosario, of the Guam Memorial Hospital, and Felipe Rios, an orthopedic technician at Naval Hospital.

The team's arrival follows a shipment of medical supplies donated by Guam doctors, pharmacies and the Naval Hospital. The supplies were airlifted to Chuuk Sunday, said Tos Nakayama, chairman of Chuuk's damage assessment team.

Nakayama said relief efforts are now focused on delivery of food, water and medical supplies to various islands in Chuuk.

"Many people are suffering. The landslides destroyed our agriculture. There is no food," Nakayama said.

"Hundreds are homeless. They are living in schools and churches -- anywhere they can find shelter."

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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