Northern Marianas

Guam and CNMI on tropical storm watch

The weather service says at 2pm on Friday local time, Tropical Depression 16W was over 571 kilometres east-southeast of Saipan, about 579 kilometres east-southeast of Tinian and Rota, and about 611 kilometres east of Guam.

Tropical Depression 16W continues to move west-northwest at 12 kilometres per hour with maximum sustained winds are currently at 48 kilometres per hour.

A tropical storm watch means damaging winds of 62 kilometres per hour or stronger are possible within the next 48 hours.

CNMI given more time on impact statement

The U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific executive director Craig Whelden has set the new deadline at October 1st, saying it is in consideration of the difficulties caused to the people of the CNMI by Typhoon Soudelor.

This is the second extension granted by the U.S. Department of Defense - the initial deferral came after the network blackout caused when the fibre optic cable between Saipan and Tinian was severed last month.

Relief not reaching CNMI Soudelor victims

Government and NGO listings of individuals and families requesting relief are now in the thousands and continue to grow as more people come forward to seek help.

Our correspondent in the CNMI Mark Rabago says the demand for aid has raised tensions, with the Red Cross forced to shut its office by police on Wednesday after fights broke out among people seeking aid.

He says the situation is now calm but but authorities are still struggling to get aid to the people who need it the most.

SPC sends medical specialist to CNMI

The CNMI's Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation had asked for additional expertise.

SPC epidemiologist, Paul White, will work with the CNMI health authorities and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the next two weeks.

He will assist with setting-up post-disaster surveillance systems in designated areas, such as temporary shelters for displaced people.

Dr White will also provide assistance with the collection, analysis and dissemination of real-time health data and the timely response to potential disease outbreaks.

CNMI congressman says typhoon response unacceptable

Meanwhile, the territory's congressman has admitted some relief operations have been unacceptable.

Hundreds of people have sought federal aid and remain without water and electricity after the storm hit nine days ago.

The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation says about 800 power poles were downed, and reconnecting power to its 13,000 customers depend on the availability and shipment of materials.

Its executive director, John Riegel, says the hospital should return to the power grid soon, and a limited water supply has returned to some areas.

Super typhoon Soudelor powers towards Taiwan, may boost El Nino in Pacific

The category 5 storm is expected to strengthen further, with sustained wind speeds of 150 knots, or 277.8 km/h, later on Tuesday, US space agency NASA said. 

The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre is predicting wind speeds could reach 160 knots, with gusts reaching 195 knots, or 361 km/h.

“It's not the most intense ever, but it is intense,” Kevin Walsh, an associate professor of the School of Earth Sciences at Melbourne University, said.

A typhoon gains “super” status once sustained winds reach 130 knots, he said.

Quick leaner Yanai gains another best mark

Nonetheless, it was no less challenging. 

Swimmers from Fiji, FSM and Northern Marianas were the latest to take the plunge and once again those supporting the region’s swimmers were not disappointed as another personal best was achieved within five minutes of the morning’s heats commencing.

Two of those three swimmers appeared in the Men’s 50m Breaststroke. First up was Kaito Yanai representing Northern Marianas in Heat 3.

The teenager swims out of the Tsunami Swimming Center in Saipan and comes from a swimming family that includes his younger brother Ryuto.

Typhoon in Micronesia strongest of 2015

Soudelar battered the Northern Marianas on Sunday night, wrecking buildings and leaving hundreds in shelters.

It had winds of up to 170 kilometres an hour but the storm now has winds of up to 285 kilometres an hour, making it stronger than Pam, which caused widespread destruction in Vanuatu in March.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre says it is now a category 5 cyclone and it is predicting the typhoon will intensify further to 295 kilometres.

It is tracking towards the Okinawa Islands of southern Japan.

Northern Marianas set to reconnect with outside world

The cable's owner and service provider, IT&E, says a Taiwan-based repair ship, the CS Durable, has worked around the clock to fix the cable after it arrived in Saipan last week.

Meanwhile, the CNMI's delegate to the US Congress, Gregorio Kilili Sablan, has thanked all those involved in restoring the service, saying many people and organisations had played significant roles.

Businesses have been severely affected by the communications blackout, which has cost the local economy at least 20 million US dollars.