Medical teams sent to Guam typhoon scene

Dec. 11, 2002 at 3:41 PM
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AGANA, Guam, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The federal government dispatched two volunteer teams of doctors and other medical personnel to Guam on Wednesday to help in the aftermath of a second powerful typhoon to sweep across the island this year.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that 117 doctors, nurses and technicians from the San Diego and Toledo areas were called up after Typhoon Pongasang killed four people, left hundreds of the island's 150,000 residents homeless, and seriously damaged the main hospital.

"The storm hit Guam hard and severely damaged Memorial Hospital," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. "Our health-care professionals will work with local public health officials and provide medical assistance to those in need."

Pongasang crashed into the remote Pacific island on Sunday with winds gusting around 180 mph and was considered the worst storm to ever hit Guam. Around 400 people were inured, according to Civil Defense authorities.

Typhoon Cha'Taan struck Guam in July, carrying 145-mph winds that knocked out power to the entire island and caused $5.4 million in damage. In late April, several residents suffered minor injuries when an offshore earthquake struck measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale.

Pongasang also disrupted power over the entire island as well as fuel supplies and other utilities. Scores of homes damaged and streets blocked by tons of debris.

Relief efforts were being organized on Hawaii where, the Honolulu Advertiser said, agriculture officials were on alert for any unwelcome brown tree snakes that may have sought shelter in the wheel wells of relief planes.

Weather forecasters said Pongasang was fading fast Wednesday as it drifted into cooler, drier air about 750 miles northwest of Wake Island.

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