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At a glance: Philippines

Emergency aid starts to reach Philippines areas hit by typhoon and mudflows

© UNICEF Philippines/2006/Bito
Rico, 7, walks along the main road of San Isidro village in Santo Domingo, the Philippines. Heavy rains and winds buried the village in mud and volcanic debris.

By Sabine Dolan

NEW YORK, USA, 5 December 2006 – In the Philippines, the death toll from Typhoon Reming, also known as Durian, has climbed to more than 570, according to the latest government figures.

The super-typhoon struck on 30 November and 1 December 2006, triggering flows of mud and volcanic debris that buried eight villages near Mount Mayon in the island nation’s Bicol Region. An estimated 1,000 people have been injured and 470 are still missing.

“There’s a very high probability that the missing are dead,” says UNICEF Communication Officer Dale Rutstein. “The situation is incredibly confused. Bodies have been swept out of one village and collected and heaped up in another. There’s still a lot we don’t know.”

Emergency relief is beginning to reach the devastated communities, but access remains challenging. Many of the hardest-hit villages have been entirely cut off by flash floods.

Emergency health kits arrive

“It’s difficult to get there and move around,” explains Mr. Rutstein. “Even today when our UNICEF assessment team finally made it, there really was very little in the way of evacuation centres set up, very little in the way of relief goods reaching large numbers of people.”

© UNICEF Philippines/2006/Bito
Levine Noila, 25, and her two-year-old daughter Ayana Raven in front of her parents’ home at San Rafael town in Guinobatan, the Philippines. Her father (background) attempts to clear debris.

Two shipments have now arrived in the affected area, including emergency health kits with basic medical supplies for 10,000 people. Mr. Rutstein says the aid was dispatched only a few hours after the disaster struck.

“We were actually getting prepared for this before the typhoon hit,” he notes. “On Monday, we sent out about $47,000 worth of tins, sardines and rice, as well as blankets, plastic sheeting and water purification tablets. It’s there today. And on Friday, we are gearing up for a much bigger shipment.”

Up to 1 million affected

The supplies, which are to be delivered by truck, include:

  • 4,000 family-sized tents for shelter
  • 60 large water tanks
  • 4,000 jerry cans for carrying water
  • 4,000 mosquito nets to prevent malaria.

“We expect by tomorrow to have a lot more information on what’s needed and where UNICEF is requested to help,” says Mr. Rutstein.

UNICEF assessment teams working in the stricken areas estimate that up to 1 million people have been affected, and 45 percent of them could be children. Meanwhile, Durian has swept through Viet Nam, causing many casualties there, and is now heading towards Thailand.




5 December 2006:
UNICEF Communication Officer Dale Rutstein reports on the mudflows that have devastated communities in the Philippines.
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