Philippines: EHA emergency updates - Tropical Storm Fengshen, 21 Jul 2008

I. General Information

According to the latest update from the National Disaster Coordinating Council as of 16 July 2008 the number of families affected by the typhoon has reached 838 623. Total estimated cost of damages to agriculture and infrastructure has amounted to PHP13 320 954.

Update on the toxic cargo on board Sulpicio Lines MV Princess of the Stars

Task Force Princess of the Stars announced that Sulpicio Lines Inc., owner of the capsized ferry, MV Princess of the Stars is expected to finalize the contract for salvage operations with foreign salvage operator Titan Salvage next week. According to the task force, it will take 21 days from the signing of the contract for Titan to mobilize its personnel and equipments from its home base abroad to the disaster site in Sibuyan Sea in the Province of Romblon.

II. Health Impact



* excluding MV Princess of the Stars victims
** 399 identified and 158 recovered bodies

Update on the toxic cargo on board Sulpicio Lines MV Princess of the Stars

With the source of livelihood of the predominantly fishing communities in Sibuyan Island severely affected by the fishing ban, health officials warned that this may result to decreased food intake of children which may lead to malnutrition. School authorities on the other hand noted an increasing number of absences of the children.

III. Response

1. DOH together with WHO is drawing up a contingency plan for a chemical spill scenario. Efforts have also been made to address the evolving health needs of the residents in the affected communities.

2. WHO coordinated with the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit (JEU) and the European Commission Monitoring and Information Center (MIC) for the assessment mission of the experts at ground zero. The team conducted an ocular inspection of the disaster site, reviewed the data gathered by local authorities, inspected the on site laboratory and reviewed the methodologies used for environmental sampling particularly fish and water samples. The mission was concluded with a briefing of national authorities regarding their preliminary findings at the disaster site and their recommendations for future actions of concerned agencies. In its report to national authorities, it emphasized the need for a continuous and intensified monitoring of environmental samples even if there were no detected oil or chemical spill. The experts warned of a "worst case" scenario, especially with the onset of the typhoon season, where the ship's stability may be severely disturbed causing leakage of hazardous materials in the environment. The need to have a contingency plan for such events has been reiterated by the experts.

3. WHO also coordinated with the International Maritime Organization regarding the need to review the proposal of the salvage operators contracted by Sulpicio Lines. The salvage expert commissioned by the IMO, upon request by the national government is now in the country to provide technical advice to the task force.

Source: Report of Dr Gerardo Medina, National Disaster Coordinating Council, Philippine Daily Inquirer


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