A patrol boat carrying water supplies to devastated islands in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) will leave Pohnpei tonight as relief efforts get underway in the wake of super-typhoon Maysak.
Maysak, with sustained winds of 260 kilometres an hour, slammed into islands that make up the state of Chuuk on Sunday night causing five deaths.
It then crossed the vast archipelago of 607 islands before battering the Yap group of islands on Wednesday where homes, crops and buildings were extensively damaged on Ulithi and Fais.
The official death toll currently stands at five.
Disaster officials in Yap say their assessment team left in a small plane this morning to find out what's needed.
The national government in Pohnpei is waiting for an official report from Yap but it has sent a request for international relief to the UN's aid coordination agency in Suva following the state of emergency declared in neighbouring Chuuk State.
Andrew Yatilman, director of the FSM's Office of Environment and Emergency Management, said a good number of people were treated in hospital in Chuuk for their injuries.
"They did not give us the exact number but they said that a good number of people were injured from fallen debris, or flying debris or their houses fell down on them," he said.
Mr Yatilman said the government was being proactive.
"We've got one patrol boat in Chuuk right now delivering water and essential needs like blankets and kitchen sets. For Yap, we're waiting for further word from Yap as to how the national government can respond effectively. Tonight we will be sending a patrol boat also, and it will be carrying water supplies."
Food supply fears
There are fears that victims of Typhoon Maysak face starvation unless they receive aid quickly.
The storm has been downgraded from its status as a super-typhoon as it moves away from the islands of Yap State and Palau and is expected to continue to weaken during the next few days.
In Chuuk, residents are struggling to clear the roads of huge pieces of debris and return to damaged homes.
In a statement yesterday, FSM President Manny Mori indicated foreign aid would be needed to support relief efforts.
He said there was extensive damage to schools, health facilities, public utilities, private residences as well as the sinking of several fishing, passenger and dive ships.
Crops were ruined and water supplies contaminated after the violent storm.
The Executive Director of the Micronesian Red Cross, Isao Frank, said there would be significant humanitarian needs and volunteers were already helping to distribute relief.
"We have teams on the ground who are doing assessments and sharing bits of information here and there," he said. "There's definitely a lot of damage to crops and facilities such as schools and buildings. We have buildings with rooves completely blown away. There's still places where people are not able to get to. Trees and derbis all over the place."
University of Guam Telecommunication and Distance Education Operation associate director Manny Hechanova told the Pacific Daily News in Guam that the immediate need was food, water and clothing.
"These islands are on their own, with limited food supplies. They may have to wait for three to five days and they may not be ready to wait that long. Starvation is a real possibility," she said.
Rapid response team dispatched
The local government in Yap State in the Federated States of Micronesia said a rapid response team was being dispatched to get a fuller picture of damage caused by Typhoon Maysak.
Yap Lieutenant Governor James Yangetmai said the local islands that took the full brunt of Maysak appeared to have been the small atolls of Fais and Ulithi, as expected.
"We are going to send out a plane to two of our neighbouring islands, the ones that got the brunt of the super-typhoon, the islands of Fais and Ulithi. We're sending our rapid response team out there to see what assessment they come up with."
The storm swept past a number of Yap islands including Satawal, Lamotrek, Elato, Italik and Eauripik.
Mr Yangetmai said these islands were likely to have sustained extensive damage to crops and some homes, although they were yet to get the full picture of damage from the typhoon.
"Maybe 50 percent of our assessment, maybe 65 percent. And the assessment that we have thus far is from the outer islands, or the neighbouring islands of Yap, and I can tell you it's not a pleasant one."
In its latest advisory (11am NZT), the US National Weather Service in Guam said Maysak's maximum winds have decreased to 225 kilometres an hour.
The Philippines is now on alert for the typhoon, which they call Chedeng, with intense rain, flash flooding and landslides expected when it makes landfall late on Saturday or early Sunday.