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U.N. Security Council relocates due to storm damage: envoys

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council will meet later on Wednesday to discuss Somalia and other issues, but it has been forced to relocate because of water damage to parts of the United Nations complex from the storm Sandy, diplomats said.

It was not immediately clear how badly the U.N. buildings were damaged by the storm. Diplomats said flooding in basement areas was severe enough to require the 15-nation council to move to a temporary container-like structure built to house parts of the U.N. secretariat and conference rooms during a years-long renovation of the main buildings due to finish in 2013.

Reporters accredited to the United Nations have so far not been allowed back into the world body's headquarters by the East River in midtown Manhattan. It has been shut since Monday before Sandy crashed ashore the same day, the largest storm to hit the United States in generations.

"The council chamber was hit, IT (information technology) was apparently damaged, possibly some documents as well," a council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Another council envoy confirmed the diplomat's remarks.

A U.N. official told Reuters that "only essential staff required to assist in the recovery of the (U.N. headquarters) will be permitted into the U.N. complex."

The U.S. 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 it meets later on Wednesday, the council plans to extend its mandate for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia for one week before meeting again next week to approve a 12-month extension for the force, known as AMISOM.

(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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