A major typhoon hit Mindanao Island in the Philippines last night (3 December 2012), and emergency teams went into action, reports Catholic aid agency CAFOD ( the Catholic Fund ofr Overseas Development) and other relief networks.
National and local resources were being braced for Typhoon Bopha – known locally as Typhoon Pablo – earlier this week.
Heavy rain and winds up to 230 kilometres per hour were expected, and flash flooding and landslides are likely. Early reports say that several thousand people have been displaced and at least one killed.
In 2011, Typhoon Washi hit Mindanao on 16 December, and caused devastation in the west of the island, killing hundreds of 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.
Typhoon Bopha was expected to be considerably stronger, and CAFOD is extremely concerned about its impact.
When Washi struck, CAFOD points out, they supported local partner Ecoweb in providing food, water, household kits and shelter to people who lost their homes.
"We have been in touch with Ecoweb today to ensure that they are well prepared for the current typhoon, and we’re on standby to help them respond if needed," the agency said yesterday afternoon.
Dr Kate Crowley, who leads CAFOD's Disaster Risk Reduction work, added: “Over the last year, 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."
She continued: “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, the typhoon could 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 could have on them. Our staff and partners are on the ground and ready to respond if needed,” said Dr Crowley.
* CAFOD emergencies: http://www.cafod.org.uk/News/Emergencies-news/