It is almost impossible to imagine the total resources needed to support rescue — and now recovery operations — ongoing in southern Leyte Philippines where a massive landslide buried the entire village of Ginsaugon in the town of St. Bernard.
As of Feb. 25 rescue efforts ceased and the focus began on recovery of bodies. As Taiwanese forces departed among those involved in the recovery efforts were U.S. marines and RP teams.
While it may not be in the proportions of Typhoon Katrina which devastated the states of Louisiana and Mississippi last Aug. 29 resulting in a death toll of 1 300 the landslide in southern Leyte may probably make it the costliest in terms of relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines’ recent history.
According to the National Disaster Management Center of the Office of Civil Defense as of Feb. 23 assistance actually received from various donors in cash and kind amounted to 96.6 million pesos ($1.86 million) of which national or local funds amounted to 10.72 million pesos ($206 200) while international organizations and foreign countries have sent in 85.85 million pesos ($1.65 million).
At one time there were 1 998 people involved in the disaster operations including 52 officers and 1 946 men. Many of them are rescue medical and relief teams (746) naval assets (164) security (205) a 273-strong international contingent from Malaysia the United States (Marines) Taiwan and Spain (K9 Team) and over 500 volunteers.
As of Feb. 22 more than 167 000 lbs of supplies and equipment 269 search rescue and relief personnel medical workers and volunteers including 32 volunteers from Taiwan and Spanish K9 teams have been ferried to Southern Leyte. Philippine Air Force air assets have logged more than 86 sorties in 98.5 flying hours.
To enable rescuers get to the site of the landslide and other municipalities affected by the disaster various roads had to be restored costing an estimated 128 250 pesos ($2 500).
Resources that were mobilized in terms of personnel and facilities in relation to the continuing relief effort in southern Leyte were:
• The Philippine Air Force conducted continuous airlift operations after the massive landslide hit the village of Guinsaugon.
• In the morning of Feb. 22 PAF performed a mercy flight by transporting about 65 people who had relatives in the disaster-stricken area.
• The C-130 flight carried an additional of 15 500 lbs of assorted medicines relief goods emergency supplies and equipment emergency responders from national agencies and donations from other charitable institutions to Tacloban Airport.
• Two C-130s were on call daily by National Disaster Coordinating Committee to airlift much needed equipment and supplies to Tactical Operations Group 8 in Tacloban Airport. From there 5 UH-IH and M35s shuttled them to the disaster area which is almost an hour by air and six hours by land.
• The S-76 Sikorsky and Bell 205 helicopters equipped with specialized rescue equipment were also on standby in Mactan-Benito Ebuen Airbase Cebu. These aircraft can evacuate rescued survivors without landing especially when the ground is wet.
• About 1 000 square meters has been established for the Philippine Army’s (PA) warehouse at Fort Bonifacio to accommodate the influx of foreign donations. Petron Corp. one of the largest oil refining companies in the Philippines will provide its technical expertise in warehousing procedure to ensure proper maintenance and distribution of the donations.
• Two Indonesian C-130 aircraft carrying assorted relief goods and 40 responders arrived at Tacloban Airport. A nine-man rescue and medical team from Turkey were also at the landslide sight.
• The DSWD continuously provide Critical Incident Stress Debriefing sessions for the survivors families of the dead and missing in hospitals and evacuation centers.
Donations as of the third week in February:
• Three planeloads of relief goods from Indonesia.
• 8 million pesos ($154 000) from Korea’s Han Jin Heavy Industries and Construction Co. Ltd. a major investor in the Philippines.
• One million pesos ($20 000) from Metrobank Foundation and 5 million pesos ($96 200) from Thailand.
• Former First Lady Imelda Marcos pledged her 600 000 peso ($11 540) jail bond for her medical trip to Hong Kong in favor of the landslide victims. Marcos hails from Tacloban Leyte.
• Of the $2.2 million foreign assistance and pledges compiled by the OCD this includes a 2.6-million peso ($50 000) emergency grant from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the emergency procurement and distribution of relief goods. “We are grateful for the immediate response of OCHA to our request for assistance ” said Ambassador Lauro L. Baja Jr. the Philippines’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations in a report to DFA Secretary Alberto G. Romulo on Feb. 20.
• The United Nations Children’s Fund also sent some 13 cartons of health kits with medicines and supplies for up to 10 000 people worth 152 000 pesos ($2 923).
• Other foreign assistance received included “equipment and other relief materials” from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (11 million pesos or $211 538).
• Cash from the United States Agency for International Development (2.9 million pesos or $56 000) to beef up relief efforts of the PNRC.
• A cash donation from the International Federation of the Red Cross (7.9 million pesos or $152 000).
• 37 boxes of emergency medical kits from the Taiwan government (5 million pesos or $96 154).
• The New Zealand government said on Feb. 20 that it will be sending NZ$300 000 ($198 000) through the International Federation of the Red Cross to help victims rebuild their lives.
• Other assistance included 300 000 ($261 600) from the Canadian government.
• 13 million pesos ($250 000) in cash and $750 000 in material assistance from the People’s Republic of China.
• $30 000 from the Singaporean government and $60 000 from the Singapore Red Cross.
• More than $4 000 in cash and pledges by the Filipino community on Hawaii.
• The government of Bahrain has also pledged $500 000 to support the ongoing retrieval rescue and relief operations. MBJ