New York - The UN Security Council was forced to relocate on Wednesday for a meeting on Somalia and other issues because of extensive water damage to parts of the United Nations complex from the storm Sandy, UN officials and diplomats said.
It was not immediately clear how badly the UN buildings were damaged by the storm. The UN press office sent a statement to reporters announcing that the UN headquarters would re-open on Thursday after a three-day closure and outlining which areas would be accessible.
The statement also said senior UN officials would brief reporters on Thursday about the damage the UN sustained during the massive storm Sandy, which flooded many parts of lower Manhattan and left nearly 2 million residents of New York state without electricity since Monday.
Diplomats said flooding in basement areas at the UN was severe enough to require the 15-nation Security Council to move to a temporary container-like structure built to house parts of the UN secretariat and conference rooms during a years-long renovation of the main buildings due to finish in 2013.
"The council chamber was hit, IT [information technology] was apparently damaged, possibly some documents as well," a council diplomat said on condition of anonymity. Another council envoy confirmed the diplomat's remarks.
The US Northeast began crawling back to normal on Wednesday after Sandy crippled transportation, knocked out power for millions and killed at least 45 people in nine states with a massive storm surge and rain that caused epic flooding.
When the Security Council met on Wednesday, it approved the extension of its mandate for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia for one week before meeting again next week to vote on a 12-month extension for the force, known as Amisom.