Caritas Australia and the wider Caritas network are monitoring a tropical cyclone that is passing through the Philippines.
The brunt of the typhoon is now being felt in the province of Catanduanes after hitting land at 6:30pm on Christmas Day.
According to Caritas Philippines (NASSA), at least 3000 people have been evacuated in Catanduanes and the Catholic Diocese and Local Government Units (LGUs) are coordinating all response actions to maximise resources, especially the distribution of relief goods.
Pre-emptive evacuation has been applied to most of the affected localities and food remains the top priority need.
In other parts of the Bicol region, NASSA is monitoring storm surges and flooding as the Bicol river basin may cause a major flood. Several areas are without electricity.
The Archdiocese of Caceres, in the province of Camarines Sur, has pre-positioned relief goods and has established emergency evacuation centres. Additional support has been requested from Caritas Philippines in the event coastal communities along the Bicol river basin and the Caramoan Peninsula are affected.
There is a strong chance the cyclone will hit Manila on Boxing Day (26 December). It is predicted it will cross southern Luzon and may pass through the Quezon province, Laguna and Batangas.
Local news sources are reporting that around 218,000 people spent Christmas in evacuation centres.
Caritas Australia supports development projects in Bicol and we have been in touch with our local church partners as well as Caritas Philippines. We will continue to liaise with them and monitor the situation as it continues. Caritas Internationalis are also monitoring the situation.
Caritas Australia are keeping the people of the Philippines in our thoughts and prayers.
If you would like to assist the people of Philippines, you can donate to the Caritas Australia Emergency Response Fund.
Caritas media contact: 0407 536 130