Philippines: Red Cross launches emergency appeal for landslide operation
Fears are particularly acute for the welfare of children attending an elementary school that was in session when the landslide struck.
The school was among a number of buildings - including several hundred homes - that were buried by the landslide, which struck 670km southeast of the Philippines capital of Manila. This area of Southern Leyte is notoriously prone to monsoon rains.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has already sent Euro128,169 (Swiss Francs 200,000) from its emergency reserve and is now appealing for Euro 1,2 million (SwFr 2 million) to help the people worst affected.
The funds will be used to finance the purchase of cooking utensils, mosquito nets, temporary shelter materials, health and hygiene articles, water containers and purification tablets for survivors over the next six months.
A Hercules C-130 relief plane is flying from the capital of Manila carrying 1,000 body bags and relief supplies, including 300 blankets, 400 cartons of biscuits, rubber boots, ropes and medicine to the disaster-affected area.
The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) mobilized its Disaster Response Team (DRT) to assist those affected by the rain and landslides and has been working already to help people in the area, prior to last night's tragedy.. It performed rescue, provided initial assistance, including first aid and rice distributions.
This remote coastal area of is heavily forested with coconut trees. They have shallow roots, which can be easily dislodged after heavy rains causing the land to become unstable.
"This is one of the most remote and inaccessible regions of the country," said the Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, Richard Gordon. "The mud is waist-deep in some areas and this is making it very difficult to search for survivors and get help to the injured."
The PNRC has extensive experience in responding to the needs of people following natural disasters. This area is often hit by floods and heavy rains. In 2004 a series of typhoons killed 1,750 people and injured a further 750 people. A landslide in Southern Leyte killed up to 6,000 people in 1991.
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