Press conference on natural disasters
The Government has held a press conference, aiming to give detailed information to the community regarding the natural disasters occurring throughout the territory of Timor-Leste last week, particularly in the municipalities of Baucau, Ermera, Ainaro, Same, Aileu and Lautem. The press conference was an initiative of the Ministries of the Interior and Social Solidarity, who jointly have responsibility to respond to natural disasters, and was held on February 9th, 2017, at the meeting room of the fire department building, in Caicoli, Dili.
Director General of operational services of the Ministry of the Interior, Domingos Pinto, said that natural disasters had occurred in almost all Municipalities. Up until February 8th, 2017, there were confirmed 3 deaths, 2 in Baucau and 1 in Ermera and 5 injuries, 3 in Baucau and 2 in Ermera triggering the intervention of the joint team from the Ministries of the Interior and Social Solidarity, and the Red Cross.
Adverse weather conditions including strong winds and heavy rainfall caused falling trees, the destruction of homes and landslides. The joint team coordinated emergency aid for the victims of the disaster. Teams from the municipalities of Lospalos and Ainaro are working in Baucau and Ermera. As these two municipalities do not yet have fire departments, they are still being aided by teams from the municipalities of Lospalos and Ainaro.
The National Director of Disaster Risk Management from the Ministry of Social Solidarity, Agostinho Cosme Belo, stated that he had received information from the Social Solidarity Centre (SSC) that there were another 2 deaths (mother and son), in the Municipality of Baucau, Administrative Post of Baguia, Devawasi Village. A team composed of local authorities, Baucau SSC, Firefighters, Red Cross and partners were giving humanitarian aid to the victims of the storms, with rice, instant noodles, sardine cans, cookies, and other food items. Another team also gave emergency support to 3 injured, in Atelari Village, Administrative Post of Laga.
The Ermera SSC gave support to the families of the deceased, providing the casket, rice and other products. There were 40 damaged homes in the Administrative Post of Atsabe, 6 in Ermera and 8 in Hatulia. The Director Cosme Belo recalled that this information is still provisional. A joint team of the Municipality of Ermera will conduct an assessment to determine the definitive data on damaged homes.
In the Municipality of Manufahi, provisional data indicates 158 damaged homes, scattered throughout the Administrative Posts of Same-Vila, Fatuberlihu and Turiscai. The Manufahi SSC has already prepared emergency aid for the victims of these disasters.
There were two damaged houses in the Municipality of Aileu, in the Administrative Post of Remexio. The local SSC, accompanied by a team from the Municipal Disaster Management Commission, dealt with the humanitarian support in that municipality. The municipality of Ainaro also faced similar consequences due to the bad weather.
In the Municipality of Lautém, in Fuiluro Village, there were storms, rain and extreme winds that damaged 2 houses. Therefore, the SSC of the Municipality and the team of the Municipal Disaster Management Commission gave emergency assistance.
Cosme Belo stressed that the two Ministries responsible for the response to natural disasters throughout the territory of Timor-Leste have already promoted the coordination with the focal points of the municipalities, to conduct an analysis of the local situation and identify victims. Material for emergency, such as food and non-food products are already ready to distribute to the affected municipalities.
Finally, the two ministries requested communities, especially the ones living in unsafe areas, to take precautions against natural disasters, moving to safer areas in order not to put their lives at risk.