Typhoon Bopha leaves a path of destruction in the Philippines

6 Dec 2012   |   Media release   |   Philippines   |   Emergency Relief

Flooding in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines

Typhoon Bopha has wreaked havoc in the Philippines as it struck land on Tuesday morning killing at least 300 people and leaving another 300 people missing. The typhoon hit eastern Mindanao and ripped through central Mindanao through Bukidnon province, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. Hardest hit were the coastal, farming and mining towns in the southern region of Mindanao, where Bopha caused severe flash flooding and landslides leaving behind a path of destruction and despair. Raging waters and mud from the mountains swept through school buildings, covered courts, town halls and health centres.

Caritas network staff are on the ground in the Philippines providing urgent emergency response and assessing the extent of the damage. Caritas Australia’s US counterpart, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is coordinating assessments with local partner, Caritas Philippines. CRS and local Caritas Philippines staff have sent five teams to the most affected villages and towns in the provinces of Compostela and Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur.

Communities in these affected provinces have been left with no power and damage to their homes and belongings. Many communities have been left isolated with no available communications and limited road access due to landslides, fallen trees and broken bridges.

The most affected coastal areas in Davao Oriental may not be accessible for several days. Families are taking refuge in evacuation centres, while some members are sleeping outdoors. Immediate needs are food and water, but there is significant need for non-food items such as hygiene supplies, emergency shelter (tarpaulins), sleeping mats and blankets. CRS is already distributing these essential items and planning to reach more affected areas.

CRS staff visits areas that experienced a flash flood yesterday

In Mati, Caritas staff met with the director of the Diocesan Social Action Centre to plan travel together to the affected areas today (Thursday). They will meet with the Bishop and the Governor on Thursday morning. The worst affected areas are Cateel, Boston and Baganga. There is no road access to Baganga due to bridge damage.

Caritas Australia CEO, Jack de Groot says “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people in the Philippines at this terrible time of disaster, we offer our condolences, especially for the families of those who have died.

“Our humanitarian response team is in constant contact with our Caritas network staff and partners on the ground in the affected areas, and we are pleased to hear that all staff are safe. We are impressed and inspired by their solidarity and commitment to help those most affected as many of them have relatives and friends who are themselves affected” said Mr de Groot.

“It is reassuring to hear reports that the impact of this natural disaster was minimised due to disaster preparedness initiatives. The government pre-emptively evacuated 160,000 persons in areas in northern Mindanao that suffered from Tropical Storm Washi in 2011. The Cathedral bell was rung to alert city residents about the river breaching its banks. There are thankfully low reports of casualties in these areas.”

Last year, Caritas Australia provided AUD$100,000 for the response to Typhoon Washi that hit Mindanao last December 2011 and WASH and shelter programs serving over 13,000 people are still under way.

Caritas Australia has pledged financial assistance to support the response to Typhoon Bopha. The Humanitarian Emergency Team remain on high alert and are on standby to commit more support pending the full assessment and response plan from CRS.

Donate to Caritas Australia’s Emergency Response Fund on our website or phone 1800 024 413.


Media contact: Angela Ford 0400 195 562 or angelaf@caritas.org.au


Back to Newsroom