MANILA, 3 Dec – A team of two MapAction volunteers has deployed to the Philippines in readiness for Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) which is heading straight towards the country from the western Pacific. The deployment arose from a request from the United Nations’ Disaster Assessment and Coordination team. Recent reports indicate the typhoon is producing sustained winds of 114 mph and gusts of up to 124 mph. According to Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the typhoon is expected to make landfall over Surigao del Norte on Tuesday morning and affect Mindanao, Visayas, areas in Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila.
There are concerns that this could result in floods and landslides amongst communities that are still recovering from the devastating impact of Tropical Storm Sendong, which hit northern Mindanao in December of last year and led to a MapAction deployment. Some responders believe that Pablo could develop into a super-typhoon and cause even more destruction than Sendong, which killed more than 1,250 people and displaced nearly three quarters of a million.
Nigel Woof, MapAction’s Chief Executive commented: “It’s unusual for MapAction to deploy a team before the disaster has actually hit, but this means we will be on the scene and ready to help as soon as the storm passes through. We got the call for assistance from the UN on Saturday and were able to have our team in the air by Sunday evening. One volunteer arrived in Manila this morning from Bangkok, where she is based. Another is flying from the UK and will arrive later today. They will initially work from Manila to help map the needs of communities, but may travel to affected regions once the size and shape of the impact is clearer.”
This is MapAction’s third emergency mission to the Philippines. In addition to its deployment a year ago for Sendong, the charity also assisted after severe storms in 2009. As before, MapAction will work closely with the Filipino national disaster management agency, United Nations and other responders to help coordinate whatever response is needed to Typhoon Pablo.