China, Philippines, and Vietnam: Typhoon Chanchu - Information Bulletin n° 1

The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 181 countries.
In Brief

Throughout the past week more than one million people were evacuated due to Typhoon Chanchu in China, the Philippines and Vietnam. The deadly typhoon has left a trail of destruction and loss across vulnerable rural communities in all three countries. Red Cross National Societies in China, the Philippines and Vietnam have mobilised resources and are actively responding to the needs created by typhoon Chanchu.

This Bulletin is being issued for information only, and reflects the situation and the information available at this time. The Federation is not seeking funding or other assistance from donors for this operation at this time.

The Situation

Typhoon Chanchu ("pearl"), the first major storm to hit the region in 2006 formed in the Pacific on 9 May about 550 km east of Mindanao island in the Philippines. Shortly thereafter on 13 and 14 May the typhoon hit central and northwestern Philippines affecting some 53,000 people in the Luzon and Visayas regions. 37 people were killed and thousands of homes were destroyed due to the forceful typhoon's gusts which reached up to 170 km per hour.

On Wednesday 17 May some 300,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Fujian Province and 320,000 people were evacuated along the coast of Guangdong Province as Chanchu made its way over the South China Sea towards Southern China. Since then, the number of evacuees in these two provinces has reached over one million people. In China evacuees from fishing boats and low lying areas are currently being housed in tents, schools, government warehouses or stayong with relatives.

The powerful typhoon struck China on Thursday 18 May leaving at least 21 people dead: 13 in Fujian province due to floods and landslides triggered by the typhoon; and, 8 in Guangdong Province. At the same time 27 Vietnamese fishermen remain missing after their boats sank in Chinese waters due to the storm.

In Vietnam, Typhoon Chanchu entered the central East Sea area. Floods, triggered by prolonged drought and the typhoon, washed away shrimp and salinated irrigation sources in Vietnam's central Quang Nam province, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of losses. According to the local government 50 percent of the shrimp from 100 ha of ponds were carried away to sea on Thursday, leading to a loss of billions of dongs for farmers. Elevated sea levels led waters to encroach on the Thu Bon River, a major source for irrigating paddy fields in the province's coastal areas where now 1,000 ha of land will not be able to be sowed due to the salty irrigation water.

For each of the over one million people throughout these three countries who have been evacuated due to what is the first of what will be many storms over the coming months, the hours in the shelters are filled with the tension of not knowing whether they will have a home to return to, the safety and whereabouts of family and friends or the news of loss.

It is the poor rural farmers in each of these countries who are the most vulnerable to recurring floods, typhoons and tropical storms which occur in East and South-east Asia. Already battling against issues such as rising prices and an increasing income gap, this struggling population of rural farmers, which in China alone constitutes close to one-eighth of the world's population, cannot afford any further setbacks.

Earlier this month, China's National Climate Centre (NCC) under the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), forecasted about eight or nine typhoons to hit coastal regions starting from the end of June, while about 30 tropical storms or typhoons will be formed in the Northwest Pacific Ocean or South China Sea this year.

Red Cross National societies in China, the Philippines and Vietnam are well aware of the importance of preparedness and have in partnership with the International Federation and partner National Societies used lessons learned in previous disasters to develop community based disaster preparedness and mitigation initiatives in vulnerable rural areas into their annual programming. Although, the scope of these programmes cannot prevent the widespread affects of sudden impact disasters such as Typhoon Chanchu, communities in these three communities are benefiting from projects such as the mangrove project in Vietnam which have contributed to mitigating the impact of these devastating annual disasters.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

- China: Red Cross Society of China (RCSC)

Floods and typhoons are frequent and annual occurrences in Guangdong and Fujian provinces, as such the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) provincial branches in Guangdong and Fujian as well as RCSC Headquarters in Beijing have developed established response mechanisms to ensure delivery of assistance to affected individuals. With provincial branches already responding to the needs, representatives from RCSC headquarters including the director of the Society's Relief and Health Division will head down to Fujian province on Saturday 20 May to assess the needs. Additionally, RCSC headquarters has already responded by the immediate release of tents, quilts, water purification tablets and disinfectant to the affected areas.

- Philippines: Philippines National Red Cross (PNRC)

Oriental Mindoro province was the most affected by the storms to hit the Philippines. Ten people were reported dead and 18 injured. A total of 29,011 families, (151,771 people) were affected in various ways with reports 1,039 houses destroyed, 2,668 damaged, and widespread damage to livelihoods (ie agriculture) as well as the loss of power supplies. At present thousands of families are homeless. In response the Philippine National Red Cross Mindoro Oriental Chapter has provided mass feeding and relief to thousands in the different evacuation centres in Calapan City.

- Vietnam: Vietnam Red Cross (VNRC)

Vietnam monitored very closely the progress of the typhoon Chanchu. Vietnam Red Cross (VNRC) prepared its staff and volunteers in the areas initially supposed to be hit by the typhoon. The well known and proven effective preparedness to respond to such a disaster on the part of the Vietnamese population and VNRC again demonstrated the worth of such a programme in saving many lives and properties. During typhoon Damrey in September 2005, VNRC mobilized its volunteers and together with the local population reinforced the dykes and evacuated more than 600,000 people. As a result only three people died along the coastal line. The International Federation undertakes activities that are aligned with its Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to achieve the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity.

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

Map: China, Philippines and Vietnam: Typhoon Chanchu - Situation map

For further information:

In China:

- Mr. Wang Xiaohua, , director of external relations department, Red Cross Society of China, Beijing; email: rcsc@chineseredcross.org; phone: +86.10.6404.8366, fax +86.10.6402.9928.

- In China: Mr. Alistair Henley, head of East Asia regional delegation, Beijing, email: alistair.henley@ifrc.org; phone: +86.10.65327162, fax: +86.10.65327166.

- In Geneva: Asia and Pacific department, Ms. Ewa Eriksson, East Asia regional officer, email: ewa.eriksson@ifrc.org; phone: +41227304252; fax: +41.22. 7330395

In Philippines:

- Philippine National Red Cross: Mr. Raul Garganera, DMS Manager, Phone: +63 2 5270864, E-mail: iloilo@redcross.org.ph, or

- Mr. Victor Liozo, Jr. Secretary General, Phone: +63 9189137119, E-mail: pnrcnhq@redcross.org.ph

- Mr Rene Jinon, Federation Regional Delegation Disaster Management Unit, Bangkok, Phone: +66 2661 8201 ext 430, E-mail: rene.jinon@ifrc.org

- Mr Carl Naucler, Federation Representative Philippines, Office phone +63 917 880 6844, Mobile phone +63 252 76227 Email: carl.naulcer@ifrc.org

- Mr Bekele Geleta, Federation Head of Regional Delegation, Bangkok, Phone: +66 2661 8201 ext 100, Email: bekele.geleta@ifrc.org

- In Geneva: South-East Asia Regional Officer, Charles Evans, Asia Pacific Department, Geneva, Email: charles.evans@ifrc.org; phone +41 22 730 4320; fax 41 22 733 0395or or Sabine Feuglet,, Email: sabine.feuglet@ifrc.org phone+41 22 730 4349; ; fax 41 22 733 0395

In Vietnam:

- Dr. Trinh Bang Hop, Head of International Relations and Development Department, Viet Nam Red Cross; email: vnrchq@netnam.org.vn; Phone: +84.4.822.4320; Fax: +84.4.942.4285

- Leopoldo Principe, Federation Representative, email: leopoldo.principe@ifrc.org; Phone: +84.4.942.2980 (ext. 216); Fax: +84.4.942.2987

- Bekele Geleta, Head of Regional Delegation, Bangkok; email: bekele.geleta@ifrc.org; Phone: +66.2.640.8211; - Fax: +66.2.640.8220

- Charles Evans or Sabine Feuglet, Southeast Asia Desk, Asia Pacific Department, Geneva; email: charles.evans@ifrc.org or sabine.feuglet@ifrc.org; Phone: +41.22.730.4320/4349; Fax: +41.22.733.0395

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, please also access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org