By Nichola Jones, in the Philippines
Super Typhoon Haiyan has brought widespread flooding, landslides and destruction to the Philippines, destroying thousands of homes as it tracked across the Visayas region of central Philippines on its path through the country.
The storm, the worst typhoon to hit the country this year, made landfall early on Friday morning with wind speeds of 300 kilometres an hour. It tore through Samar and Leyte in the Eastern Visayas before sweeping through Cebu in the Central Visayas. There are reports of buildings collapsing in Leyte, including a hotel, and specialist teams from the Philippine Red Cross are assisting with search and rescue.
Strong winds and heavy rain have also battered the island of Bohol, which was devastated by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake three weeks ago. More than 270,000 people in the area are already living under tarpaulins and in makeshift shelters, and the extreme weather threatens to intensify the humanitarian emergency.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has been working with the Philippine Red Cross as it prepared rapid response teams and supplies for those worst affected by the storm.
Search and rescue teams are on standby and emergency supplies of blankets, sleeping mats, hygiene kits and water carriers have been sent from stores in Manila to a warehouse in Cebu ready for distribution in the coming days.
The IFRC’s country representative in the Philippines, Bernd Schell, said: “Assessment of the damage and destruction has begun, search and rescue teams have been deployed and emergency supplies are ready to be distributed to those in the worst hit areas. Thousands of people are likely to be left without food, shelter and water – this is a double blow for the survivors of the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, who were already struggling to get back on their feet.”
The IFRC has released 500,000 Swiss francs (545,000 US dollars) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to assist the humanitarian effort on the ground, as the typhoon is now leaving the Philippines and heading across the South China Sea towards Viet Nam.