By Afrhill Rances, in Manila
As rescue and assessment teams reach areas affected by Typhoon Bopha, the scale of devastation wrought by the storm continues to emerge. The government has declared 50 provinces, cities and municipalities under state of calamity. The typhoon has affected the lives of over 5 million people, wrecked over 70,000 houses and left more than 133,000 people seeking shelter in temporary evacuation centres.
In some cases entire villages have been devastated, but reaching some of the more remote areas of Eastern Mindanao has been a huge challenge with roads blocked or washed away and bridges collapsed.
The Red Cross is rolling out a massive relief operation. Teams on the ground have so far provided food and non-food supplies such as bedding and water storage containers to some 5,000 families in need.
“We have released supplies that were pre-positioned in Davao City – enough for more than 7,000 families – which we are now taking to the most affected areas of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley. Additional items are being dispatched from our main warehouses in Manila,” says Richard Gordon, Chairman of Philippine Red Cross.
Red Cross assessment teams, who have been surveying the scale of the destruction since the deadly storm made landfall, have described the scale of devastation that they have witnessed as staggering. According to disaster authorities, while 600 people have been killed almost 800 people are still missing.
“Sadly hundreds of lives have been lost, and thousands more have been rendered homeless or with no means to meet their basic needs after their houses and livelihoods were washed away,” Gordon says.
Providing communities with food, shelter and clean water are immediate priorities. So far, Red Cross staff and volunteers have served ready-to-eat meals to 15,000 people in evacuation centres, delivered food packages to 5,000 families and provided non-food supplies such as sleeping mats, blankets, hygiene items, jerrycans and tents to 1,000 families.
The Red Cross is also surveying the scale of destruction the typhoon caused in other provinces, such as Bukidnon and Palawan where relief supplies have been dispatched.