Philippines: Typhoon Sarika - Information Bulletin n° 1

This bulletin is being issued for information only, and reflects the current situation and details available at this time. After the typhoon’s landfall, and based on assessments, the Philippine Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) will determine whether external support is required, since Typhoon Sarika may cause in substantial humanitarian impact.

The situation

A weather disturbance which formed earlier this week, in the sea, east of Philippines has intensified to Typhoon Sarika (local name Karen). The national meteorological agency – Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) – estimates that Sarika will make landfall in the Aurora Quezon area as an equivalent of Category 2 cyclone early Sunday, 16 October. After landfall, Sarika will gain strength slightly as it traverses landmass before exiting to the sea west of Philippines by Monday, 17 October, and leaving the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) by Tuesday, 18 October 2016.

As the typhoon approaches landmass, public storm warning signal (PSWS) #3 has been raised for the provinces of Aurora, Benguet, La Union, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan, northern Quezon, Quirino, Tarlac and northern Zambales while PSWS #2 has been raised for Bataan, Bulacan, Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, Ifugao, Ilocos Sur, southern Isabela, Mt. Province, Pampanga, rest of Quezon, Rizal and rest of Zambales. At least 18 other areas, including the capital Metro Manila, are under PSWS #1. Moderate to heavy rains are expected within a 500-kilometre diameter of the storm’s path, with the risk of landslides and flash floods likely, and storm surges possible in coastal parts of areas under PSWS #2 and 3. For details on the various storm warning signals refer to PAGASA’s tropical cyclone update.

Heavy rainfall has, today, been pounding the provinces of Albay, Catanduanes and Camarines Norte, prompting PAGASA to issue a red rainfall warning. In addition, the authorities have been monitoring two dams (San Roque dam in the province of Pangasinan and Magat dam in the province of Isabela) whose levels were already near full. Flood warnings have been issued for areas surrounding and downstream the two dams since controlled release of water from the reservoirs may be necessary.

Meantime, a new weather disturbance has formed in West Pacific and is likely to impact the Philippines within the next seven days. The new disturbance has intensified into Tropical Storm Haima and will be given the local name Lawin once it enters PAR. Initial models by various meteorological agencies project that Haima will make landfall in North Luzon late next week, potentially as a super typhoon.

Action by the authorities

Philippine authorities at all levels (national, regional, provincial, municipal and local government unit) have disseminated advisories issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and are continuously monitoring the situation. The NDRRMC has so far convened three pre-disaster risk assessment (PDRA) meetings – on Thursday 13 October, Friday 14 October and Saturday 15 October – to deliberate on preparedness actions. The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and the Humanitarian Country Team (HTC) have participated in two of the meetings.
Today, Saturday 15 October, local authorities in high-risk areas are undertaking pre-emptive evacuation of people from flood and landslide prone areas in order to minimize potential loss of human lives. First responders as well as search and rescue teams from various government departments and agencies, including the military, are on standby for immediate response if required.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

PRC and its Movement partners, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), are monitoring the weather disturbance continuously through the PRC operations centre that functions 24/7. The operations centre is receiving up-to-date information from the wide PRC chapter network, which covers the entire nation, and also disseminating advisories from PAGASA and NDRRMC to chapters in areas that are likely to be affected.

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for response have been activated and the National Society’s chapters in central and north Luzon as well as teams in the national headquarters are now on high alert and prepared for a potential response. Trained, experienced and equipped staff and volunteers are on standby for immediate deployment should the need arise.

Furthermore, PRC has significant quantities of disaster preparedness stocks pre-positioned in its main warehouses located in Cebu, Mandaluyong City, Manila and Subic Bay in addition to assorted relief items that are stocked by several of its chapters. The stocks include IFRC-provided preparedness items – which comprise various quantities of essential non-food items (blankets, jerry cans, hygiene kits, kitchen sets, mosquito nets and sleeping mats), tarpaulins, shelter toolkit, and corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheets – sufficient to meet the needs of at least 20,000 households.

The IFRC and ICRC, as well as some of the Partner National Societies with presence in the Philippines, are ready to support PRC in mounting a response operation should Typhoon Sarika cause substantial humanitarian impact. Thus far, IFRC is supporting PRC in disseminating updates to Movement partners and coordinating with the HCT. The IFRC Country Office for Philippines has some technical specialists who are supporting other ongoing operations of PRC, especially the Typhoon Haiyan recovery programme, who can be mobilized to augment the National Society’s response to Sarika. In this regard, one field delegate has been placed on standby in Manila, ready to deploy to affected parts of Luzon with PRC teams should the National Society request for IFRC support in rapid assessments and immediate response.

Meantime, the IFRC Asia Pacific regional office (APRO) has deployed two technical persons to be prepositioned in Manila. The technical persons have arrived in-country today and are on standby to ensure that PRC and the IFRC country office receive adequate support in designing the strategy and coordination of response activities should the situation warrant an operation that requires international support.

Contact Information

For further information, please contact:

Philippine Red Cross:

IFRC Philippines country office:

IFRC Asia Pacific regional office, Kuala Lumpur: