Mexico: Hurricane John - 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 183 countries.
In Brief

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 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.

The Situation

During the late afternoon of 29 August, Hurricane John rapidly developed from a Category 1 to a Category 3 hurricane, threatening communities along the Pacific coast of Mexico in the States of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Michoacan.

A hurricane watch has been declared for the West coast of Mexico, from Lazaro Cardenas west-ward to La Fortuna. At 5AM PDT, the centre of hurricane John was located near latitude 16.0 north and longitude 101.7 west, or about 215 km WSW of Acapulco and 225 km SSE of Lazaro Cardenas.

Hurricane John has moved somewhat closer to the coastline over the past 12 hours, and is currently moving between WNW and NW at 19km/hour. Although the centre of the hurricane is forecast to remain just offshore, any deviation to the east is predicted to bring hurricane force winds to the coast within the warning area, according to the National Hurricane Centre's Tropical Prediction Centre.

Maximum sustained winds are reported to be near 185km / hour with higher gusts, with some additional strengthening forecast over the next 24 hours and the possibility of John becoming a Category 4 hurricane later today.

Rainfall is reported to be heavy and there is a risk of landslides and flash floods, particularly in the mountainous areas of the Sierra Madre. The Civil Protection Agency (UEPC) reports that hurricane John has already caused landslides in the Costa Chica area of Guerrero, leaving some 70 communities isolated. In Acapulco, more than 100 shelters have been opened as a preparative measure. The present track has Hurricane John skirting the southern coast of Baja California on the morning of Friday, 1 September.

Red Cross action

The International Federation's Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU), based in Panama, has been in close contact with the Mexican Red Cross (MRC) since Hurricane John began threatening the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Mexican Red Cross Branches in Guerrero, Oaxaca and Michoacan have been put on alert. In addition, the MRC's national emergency response team has been mobilized and is on stand-by to travel to the most affected areas today, 30 August, in order to provide immediate relief, assist with evacuations, search and rescue operations, as well as provide initial first aid and medical assistance, as required.

Coordination and Information

PADRU is coordinating with the OCHA Regional Office, based in Panama, and remains in constant contact with the Mexican Red Cross, as the storm progresses. In addition, PADRU is in regular contact with the Federation's Operations Support Department (OSD) at the Secretariat Headquarters, for possible activation of global response tools such as FACT and ERU, as the situation warrants.

A special page on the Regional Federation website at www.cruzroja.org has been created and is being up-dated on a regular basis.

Map: Mexico: Hurricane John - Situation map

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Mexico: Isaac Oxenhaut, National Relief Coordinator, Tel: (1-52-55) 10 84 45 83 ; email: desastres@cruzrojamexicana.org or socorrosnal@cuzrojamexicana.org

In Panama: Stephen McAndrew, Coordinator, Federation Pan American Disaster Response Unit, Panama; email stephen.mcandrew@ifrc.org, phone (507) 316-1001, fax (507) 316-1082

In Geneva: Olaug Bergseth, Federation Regional Officer, Americas Department, Geneva; email olaug.bergseth@ifrc.org, phone (41 22) 730-4535, fax (41 22) 730-0395

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 (NGOs) 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