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Typhoon Koppu lashes northern Philippines

EMERGENCY UPDATE (23 OCT 2015): Relief operations continue in the hardest-hit provinces of Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija and Aurora. Power outages persist in five provinces in northern Luzon, including the Cordillera Autonomous Region. Total damage to agriculture across all affected areas is estimated at PHP 7,543,461,104 (USD 162,419,090). 

To date, 46 deaths have been confirmed. There were no recorded casualties in areas that conducted pre-emptive evacuations. More than half a million people have been evacuated of which 108,700 people are in 424 evacuation centres.

Margareta Wahlstram, the head of the UN office for disaster risk reduction, said other countries could learn from the timely response of the government and local and international NGOs, which mitigated the cyclone`s impact.

“The communication of early warnings in the Philippines has improved significantly since Typhoon Haiyan,” Wahlstram told The Guardian. “Government agencies have been successful in reducing loss of life through the effective communication of early warnings and organising targeted evacuations in the areas most affected.”

Assessments conducted by ChildFund Philippines indicate our local partners and respective communities are coping with the impacts of the typhoon, and an emergency response intervention is unnecessary in these areas. However, some families have experienced massive crop loss and may need help down the track.

“We may see a rapid change of scenario with the decrease in flood water levels, and people returning to their homes,” says Katherine Manik, national director of ChildFund Philippines. “Immediate relief needs can be addressed by national institutions and other first tier response organisations. What will surely be required in the longer term are livelihood interventions to address the economic impact of the disaster.”

On the morning of 18 October, Typhoon Koppu (known locally as “Lando”) made landfall in the Philippines on the east coast of Luzon, the country’s biggest island. The second-strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year, Koppu triggered floods and landslides, toppled trees and power lines, and forced more than 100,000 people from their homes. At least 26 deaths have been confirmed.

A major emergency response operation is underway in seven regions of Luzon where torrential rains caused massive flooding along the storm’s path. The slow-moving typhoon brought heavy rain to some of the nation’s most important farming areas, leaving residents of flooded farming villages trapped on their rooftops.

ChildFund Philippines has been monitoring the situation through its local partners in affected areas. In Quezon, staff reported damaging winds and power outages, with many families evacuated from their homes. Power is also down in Ifugao and Mountain Province, and some roads are no longer safely passable because of landslides. Schools and offices are closed.

“Koppu is a slow-moving typhoon, so while Southern and Eastern Luzon are no longer experiencing the typhoon`s effects, the North is only now enduring the typhoon,” Katherine Manik, national director of ChildFund Philippines, said on Monday.

“Our main priority is to ensure children are safe and protected. We have extensive experience in responding to disasters in the Philippines, including supporting children and families in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.”

The full extent of the damage is still unknown, and in particular, the damage to the agriculture sector.

ChildFund’s local partner in Quezon has started a rapid assessment, along with their local disaster risk reduction and management council.

In Ifugao and Mountain Province, where communications are currently down, assessments will begin as soon as possible.

The Philippine Government is not seeking international assistance at this time, although targeted support provided with in-country resources is welcome.

The typhoon is expected to exit the Philippines Tuesday evening.

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