Over the past four days, Typhoon Usagi, one of the most powerful typhoons to strike Asia Pacific this year, has brought heavy rains, flash floods and landslides to the Philippines and China, claiming the lives of over 50 people.
In the Philippines, continuous rains since Sunday prompted the evacuation of thousands of families as floodwaters submerged houses in parts of Bataan and Zambales provinces. To date, 33 people have been killed as a result of floods and landslides, while hundreds were left stranded on rooftops.
“Our emergency responders helped to rescue more than 300 people who were trapped in a village, north of Subic Bay, although sadly, some lives were lost in landslides,” says Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross.
According to some residents of Olongapo City and the neighbouring town of Subic, both in the province of Zambales, this week’s flooding is the highest they have seen in their lifetime, reaching up to 2 metres in some areas.
“We have been encouraging people in areas at risk to evacuate as soon as they can, in the event of new flooding, so that we can prevent the loss of lives,” explains Gordon. “Our target is zero fatalities.”
As well as undertaking rescue operations, Philippine Red Cross staff and volunteers have distributed food and essential relief to affected residents. This is the third tropical storm to have struck the Philippines in six weeks and comes in the wake of an emergency appeal launched by the IFRC to support emergency response efforts of the Philippine Red Cross over the course of the typhoon season.
Packing winds of 185 kilometres an hour, Typhoon Usagi went on to cross the South China sea, making landfall on 22 September when it slammed into the coast of China’s Guandong Province. Even though 300,000 people were evacuated from coastal areas in advance of the storm, there were 25 fatalities. Disaster relief supplies, including tents, quilts and family kits, have been transported to affected areas by the Red Cross Society of China’s Guangdong branch and flood rescue teams assisted local authorities in evacuation efforts.
Although the situation in Guangdong returned to normal relatively quickly, Typhoon Usagi is bringing heavy rains to the neighbouring provinces of Guangxi and Hunan, which are mountainous and under-developed in many areas. Houses in rural areas are largely built from timber and mud brick and are at risk from flash floods and landslides.
In Hunan, almost 300,000 people have been affected with 17,800 evacuated from flood prone areas. The torrential rains have caused flooding in Changde City and the local Red Cross branch is monitoring the situation closely and local emergency response teams in the area are ready to respond if needed.