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07 December 2023

Emergency declared in typhoon-ravaged Northern Mariana

Various supplies being loaded onto a ship at Apra Harbor in Guam before setting sail to Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands to help those affected by Super Typhoon Yutu. (AFP)


US military aircraft laden with emergency supplies were flying in to the Northern Mariana Islands Saturday in the wake of destructive Super Typhoon Yutu which destroyed buildings and cut electricity supplies.

Ralph Torres, the governor of the US Pacific territory said President Donald Trump had approved a request for a "major disaster declaration" after the powerful storm, packing winds of up to 180 miles per hour (290kmh) left one person dead and caused widespread damage.

More than 130 people required hospital treatment, mainly for cuts caused by flying debris.

Hundreds of tourists were also stranded with the international airport on the main island of Saipan closed to commercial flights to free up space for military aircraft.

Electricity was out across Saipan, which is home to most of the territory's 55,000 residents, as well as nearby Tinian.

Tinian mayor Joey San Nicolas said the aid was urgently needed and authorities still did not know the full extent of the damage, two days after Yutu swept through.

"Many homes have been destroyed, our physical infrastructure has been compromised, we have no power or water," he said.

"Our ports are currently inaccessible, and several other points in other parts of the island are also inaccessible."

There have been reports of looting and stores which were able to open quickly ran out of water and food items.

"Right now, water, clothing, personal hygiene and easy to cook food items like canned goods and instant noodles are needed," Saipan resident Jonathan Perez told AFP.

Torres' office said on its Facebook page that the one known fatality was a 44-year-old woman who died while taking shelter in an abandoned building that collapsed.