Super Typhoon Claims 198 Lives in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines, December 1, 2006 (ENS) - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today ordered government agencies to undertake massive relief, rescue and rehabilitation operations in the wake of super typhoon Reming, called Durian outside the Philippines.

"Get the soldiers to help in any of the activities in the relief operations, extension of medical assistance, the cleaning of the roads, the restoration of power, and helping the stranded passengers," the President said.

Arroyo

Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has mobilized all government and military services to assist in the response to super typhoon Reming. (Photo courtesy )
The typhoon made landfall at Catanduanes on Thursday before moving westward today to Mindoro, south of Manila, carving a path of destruction across the central Philippines. Early this morning the howler was heading for the South China Sea and by tomorrow is expected to have left the Philippines.

The Philippines National Disaster Coordinating Council, NDCC, reports 198 people are confirmed dead, 260 are missing and 64 are injured.

The typhoon hit maximum sustained winds of 190 kilometers per hour at its center with gusts of up to 225 kph. Reming is the fourth typhoon to wreak havoc in the Philippines since September 27.

Widespread power and communications outages are reported, and water supplies have been disrupted. Fallen trees and debris have closed roads across the central Philippines and many vessel sailings and air flights have been canceled.

The Philippine National Red Cross, PRNC, has sent out rescue teams by road to affected areas. The NDCC reports that efforts are underway to clear roads to allow access for the response teams.

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One of the many roads washed out by the typhoon (Photo courtesy PAGASA)
The PNRC has deployed two teams by road, one to assess damages and needs in the provinces of Sorsogon and Albay, and the other to Camarines Sur and Quezon. The rescue teams include experts in logistics, relief distribution, water and sanitation and psychosocial support.

Additionally, a 10 member PRNC team equipped with rubber boats was sent into flooded areas to staff a first aid station and conduct rescue operations.

Preliminary reports indicate priority needs for blankets, food and drinking water, and construction materials as well as medical teams and body bags.

The rescuers report that heavy rains caused landslides and mudflows near the Mount Mayon volcano, burying five or more villages near Daraga town in Albay province. Government geologists will assess environmental damage and investigate the possibility of mudflows from Mount Mayon.

Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral reports there were about 4,000 evacuees particularly in Tabaco City, Albay as of this morning.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IFRC, is deploying two disaster response and assessment teams to support the local Red Cross emergency operation.

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Survivor waits for relief in the Central Philippines in the wake of the typhoon. (Photo courtesy Micomicolet)
A government C-130 transport plane was scheduled to deliver relief assistance, including food, drinking water, and tents, to Legaspi City today.

The NDCC will field a national assessment team on Saturday. Results of the assessment will be known later the same day, at which time the government will determine whether international assistance will be required.

NDCC has asked UNOSAT to provide satellite imagery of landslide-affected areas. This United Nations program provides the international community and developing countries with access to satellite imagery for use in humanitarian relief, disaster prevention and post crisis reconstruction.

President Arroyo said today that the government’s savings from the Countryside Development Fund will be used for the rehabilitation of the areas battered by the typhoon.

The President made the funding announcement during a National Disaster Coordinating Council meeting held this morning at the Department of National Defense Building in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City to assess the damage in the Bicol Region and other areas of Luzon.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said the government has almost P500 million to P1 billion (US$10 to 20 million) savings from the Countryside Development Fund, also known as "pork barrel."

"With the calamity situation in the country, we will use our savings from the pork barrel," said the President.

In addition, the IFRC has released 100,000 Swiss francs (US$83,300) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the Philippine Red Cross in initial rescue, assessment and relief distribution activities.

Undersecretary Graciano Yumul of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said that for the first time in history the country had been hit by four successive super typhoons in one year.

Typhoon Xangsane left 230 people dead and missing in Manila. Typhoon Cimaron killed 19 people and injured 58 others in October, and in November, Chebi hit the central Luzon region, killing one.

Canada is allocating C$1 million (US$873,000) to support the efforts of Philippine and international agencies seeking to provide emergency assistance to people in the typhoon affected areas, and to assist with early recovery and disaster preparedness initiatives.

“Canada recognizes that this typhoon season has hit the Philippines particularly hard,” said Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs. “The government of the Philippines has been responding well to the series of storms in the region. But as a concerned friend, Canada wants to ensure that they have all the support they need. That is why we are offering our help early on.”