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Nearly 700 people were swept to their deaths in the southern Philippines in one of the worst calamities in the region in decades, when flash floods triggered by Tropical Storm Washi inundated Mindanao Island. As news of the disaster unfolded, AmeriCares partners began distribution of pre-positioned emergency medicines and supplies to help injured and displaced survivors.
Our emergency response team is in contact with long-standing partners in the country to assess needs and determine what additional aid is needed.
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After 12 hours of pounding rain, flood waters and mud slides roared through the mountainous island in early morning hours of December 18, striking most people as they slept. Initial reports estimate about 7,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and 143,000 people were affected in 13 provinces, including 45,000 who fled to evacuation centers.
Overcrowded evacuation centers present an imminent health threat to survivors, compounded by limited access to clean water and sanitation, which elevates the risk of communicable diseases including cholera, typhoid, and respiratory infections. Water sources have been compromised for an estimated 70,000 survivors.
The port cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro were especially hard-hit by the flood’s devastation. In the delta area near Iligan, the fishing community of Bayug has been swept clear of almost all its structures. In this town of 1,000, only 43 are known to have survived.
The Philippine national disaster council is leading the response with airlifts of mats, blankets and clothes to help families in need. Philippine military troops deployed in the region are being diverted to conduct search and rescue efforts along with initial relief operations.
Since 1985, AmeriCares has delivered nearly $200 million in medicines, medical supplies and humanitarian aid to the Philippines to support more than 70 institutions, medical and disaster relief teams helping people in need.