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12 August 2013: Emergency specialists at Plan International are ready to provide immediate support as Typhoon Utor batters the Philippines. Typhoon Utor (or Labuyo as it is known in the Philippines) maintained its strength over the Philippine Sea on Sunday night and accelerated as it neared land, slamming into Casiguran with winds reaching up to 175kph at its centre and gusts of up to 200kph. It made landfall early on Monday morning at 3 am.
The Philippines is one of the countries most vulnerable to typhoons and storms; an average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, with 2 or 3 of them causing serious destruction.
"Early reports are starting to come through of the damage that this Typhoon has caused," says Plan International's Country Director in the Philippines, Carin van der Hor.
"So far material damage to houses and other structures has been reported. However, because communications are down since last night, we have not had any reports from Dinalungan and Casiguran, the areas where the typhoon made landfall. We hope to get aerial assessments later today.”
According to PAG-ASA, the Philippine weather bureau, Casiguran is the worst hit area in Aurora province.
Initial reports claimed that some 33 fishermen from Bicol and 19 from Infanta and Pangasinan were missing. About 8,000 people were stranded in various ports in Luzon, and about 1,000 individuals were evacuated in Bicol region.
“We know from more than 50 years of experience working in the Philippines that when disasters hit, they always hit the most vulnerable the hardest. Children are always badly affected by disasters like this; some will lose their lives, or lose parents, siblings and extended families. Everything that is familiar and safe is disrupted or destroyed, including homes, schooling and family livelihoods,” Ms van der Hor added.
Plan International is one of the Philippines' longest-serving aid and development INGOs, with a special focus on helping marginalised children in 420 communities across the country to access their rights to health, education, livelihoods, disaster risk management and protection.
In the thick of it
Plan has also responded to numerous emergencies across the disaster-prone country by providing food, medical supplies, health materials and psychosocial support. Most recently, Plan has responded to the 2012 Typhoon Bopha (Pablo) which killed nearly 1200 people and affected more than six million people, 2011 Typhoon Sendong (Washi) and the ongoing conflict in Mindanao - Basilan and Zamboanga Sibugay (2011), and Maguinadano (2012).
"We have an active roster of staff trained and experienced in emergency response in the core humanitarian sectors of water and sanitation, food, education, health and child protection and operational support in logistics, communications, ICT and supply chain management", said Ms van de Hor.
"Our team is travelling to the affected regions tomorrow to assess and respond to the needs we identify. We also have international experts who are on standby and will be deployed as required."
For more information about Plan’s work in the Philippines, including previous disaster responses, go to http://plan-international.org/where-we-work/asia/philippines
Notes for editors:
- Plan International Philippines Country Director Ms Carin van der Hor is available for interview by mobile phone. To speak to Ms van der Hor, please call +63 920 916 4514
- For all other media inquiries, please call Ms Alice Clements, Regional Communications Manager, email@example.com, Mobile: +66 86 923 0662