Philippines typhoon - update

8 November 2013

Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on 8th November 2013

We are responding to the huge typhoon that has hit the central Philippines.

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Typhoon Haiyan – known locally as Yolanda – struck the central Philippines on Friday with winds of up to 235 kph, forcing millions of people to take refuge in emergency shelters.

The so-called “super-typhoon” is the strongest storm to hit the Pacific this year, and is likely to cause flash flooding, landslides and damage to homes.

We have pledged an initial £50,000 to respond. We will work with our local partner National Secretariat for Social Action and with Catholic Relief Services to deliver aid to those most in need.

The typhoon has hit some of the same areas that were devastated by a 7.3-magnitude earthquake last month. CAFOD’s Jackie Pinat is coordinating our response to the quake on Bohol island. She said:

“People have been very worried for the last few days. On Thursday it rained heavily and Tagbilaran city was almost empty, except for people stocking up on food and flashlights. Today there have been very strong winds, which started first thing in the morning and which have been going on for the last few hours. We have lost power and water supplies. It’s very overcast, very dark.

“Many people on the island lost their homes in the earthquake, and many structures are unsafe. Most people in the coastal villages around Maribojoc are still in designated evacuation centres. Our partners have been serving hot food to them this morning.

“We haven’t yet had any reports of casualties on the island, but we won’t have the full picture immediately. The impact will be far worse further north in the country.”

Greg Auberry, the regional director of our partner Catholic Relief Services, said: “The pain of another disaster is devastating. We’re currently moving tarpaulins to Cebu City so that we can provide 8,000 families with inevitable shelter needs. Our response teams are travelling to the areas hardest hit to determine exactly what people need and how we can help them.”

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Extremely powerful typhoon

Typhoon Haiyan is the 25th tropical storm to enter Philippine territory this year. Melanie Duncan, a researcher at University College London who works with CAFOD on multi-hazard emergencies, said:

“The Philippines is regularly struck by major storms and typhoons, and over the last few years the government has increasingly prioritised ‘disaster risk reduction’ in order to reduce the underlying risk from the many hazards that affect the country.

“But what makes life difficult is when several disasters strike at once or in close succession. Thousands of people on the island of Bohol are living in temporary shelters following a recent earthquake, and the far north of the Philippines was recently hit by typhoon Krosa. Moreover, some hazards trigger others - in upland areas there is a risk of landslides and mudslides being triggered during typhoons.

“This was an extremely powerful typhoon, and the damage will become clearer over the next few days. People still recovering from the recent disasters will be particularly at risk. Poor and marginalised communities may also be especially vulnerable - for example those living in weakly constructed housing or those living in hazardous areas, such as the bottom of mountain slopes susceptible to landslides, or close to the coast.”

Over the next few days, the typhoon is likely to cause more devastation in the Mekong River basin as it tracks across the South China Sea and hits the coast of Vietnam, before travelling inland across Cambodia, where more than 140,000 are already homeless. CAFOD’s partners across the region are ensuring that emergency supplies are in place.

CAFOD has worked in the Philippines since 1969. We responded to Tropical Storm Washi in 2011 and Typhoon Bopha in 2012, both of which caused widespread damage on the southern island of Mindanao.

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