EMERGENCY UPDATE: PHILIPPINES

Thanks to your on-going support and generous donations CAFOD is able to respond to disasters as soon as they happen. This was especially necessary just before Christmas when a typhoon hit the southern Philippines.

Typhoon Washi hit Mindanao island in the southern Philippines on the night of Friday 16 December. It caused flash floods and landslides that have killed more than 1,000 people and driven tens of thousands from their homes.

The floods caused widespread damage in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro and in villages along the coast. Rivers burst their banks after more than 12 hours of continuous rain. Entire villages have been swept away into the sea.

CAFOD’s Carino Antequisa said:

“The initial warning that the incoming storm might hit central and northern Mindanao came four days before Saturday. But for decades people have been used to watching storms only touch the very northern-most part of Mindanao, so people were only expecting prolonged rain”

On the night of the typhoon there was a thunderous downpour, and then strong winds of 60-100 kph. Two rivers overflowed with mud, rocks and logs, sweeping communities – Christians, Muslims and in-digenous peoples – along their banks towards the sea. The swollen rivers wrought havoc in Iligan City because roughly 30% of the city’s population live within a half-kilometre of the banks of the two rivers.

CAFOD works though local partners who ensure that money and resources reach their intended goals in each country or region. Our partner in the Philippines is called ECOWEB and two of their staff were made homeless by the typhoon.

Massive logging operations in the mountains in the past and the continued timber cutting for lumber and firewood has greatly contributed to the devastation.

Mud and rocks with logs caused the damage rather than the winds themselves. The heavy downpour led to landslides down the mountain slopes, bringing along trees, bamboo groves and coconuts. This combined material rushed down the two rivers, carrying with it hundreds of houses containing sleeping residents

We have pledged £100,000 to help our local partners provide housing and support to those who have lost their homes – and CAFOD’s Senior Emergency Response Officer Robert Cruickshank flew out to the Philippines over Christmas to provide expert support.

Please keep all those affected in your thoughts and prayers.

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