Typhoon Bopha hits Philippines

4 December 2012

Typhoon Bopha hits Tagum City, southern Philippines [REUTERS/Stringer courtesy of alertnet]

Typhoon Bopha hits Tagum City, southern Philippines [REUTERS/Stringer courtesy of alertnet]

A major typhoon has hit Mindanao Island in the Philippines. Our emergency team is ready to respond.

Typhoon Bopha – known locally as Typhoon Pablo – hit Mindanao Island in the Philippines on Tuesday, bringing heavy rain and strong winds. Our emergency team is working with our local partner Ecoweb to assess the damage.

Early reports from the ground suggest that the typhoon has caused less destruction than Typhoon Washi last year, but an estimated 150,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes and at least 280 have been confirmed dead. We have also received reports of waist-high flooding in riverside communities.

Last year, Typhoon Washi caused devastation in the west of Mindanao, killing at least 1200 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. Much of the damage was caused by logs that were washed down Iligan River, which destroyed riverside villages and caused widespread damage in Iligan City. This year, the eye of the typhoon turned north-east before it hit Iligan, but the full extent of the damage is not yet clear.

Better prepared

Thanks in part to the work of our partner Ecoweb, the government and many local communities seem to have been better prepared for Typhoon Bopha than they were last year.

Dr Kate Crowley, who leads our Disaster Risk Reduction work, said:

“Over the last few months, Ecoweb has worked with local government authorities to improve the way they prepare for natural disasters. For example, they’ve supported the government in setting up an emergency response unit that helps people get to safe areas when disaster strikes.

“They’ve also carried out three dimensional hazard mapping – building models of the region in order to identify the most vulnerable communities, and then implementing plans to reduce the risks. Simple things can make a big difference, like training people to farm in a way that makes landslides less likely.

“But although better early warning systems are in place, typhoons like this one can still cause immense damage. Thousands of people who lost their homes in Typhoon Washi are still living in tents and temporary shelters, and we’re particularly worried about the impact the typhoon may have had on them.

"Our staff and partners are on the ground and ready to respond if needed.”

Please keep the people of Mindanao in your thoughts and prayers.

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