10 November 2009The United Nations has sent a disaster assessment team to El Salvador and released a $50,000 cash grant to help the small Central American country recover from torrential rainfall that caused massive flooding and triggered landslides, killing at least 140 people and displacing nearly 14,000 others. Announcing the grant today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) cited the Government’s appeal for international aid to ensure that essential supplies such as food, water, hygiene kits, beds and blankets are provided to those whose homes have been destroyed or damaged.Members of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team and the OCHA Regional Office in Panama have started arriving in the country to provide support in damage assessments and coordination of the relief effort. On Sunday, El Salvador was lashed by torrential rains, with some 355 millimetres (just over one foot) falling in just four hours, putting a quarter of the country at risk for landslides. Besides the death toll, some 60 people have been reported missing. Over 120 shelters have been established and are currently accommodating some 13,775 people. About 1,835 homes are affected, with 200 of them destroyed. The office of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in El Salvador has begun providing bottled water, school-in-a-box kits and personal hygiene kits for the affected families, and is requesting support from donor countries to continue helping children as part of the relief effort.