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Disasters leave millions in Asia Pacific needing urgent help

30 September 2009

People swim toward high groundReuters/Erik de Castro/courtesy www.alertnet.orgThe British Red Cross has launched the Asia Pacific Disaster Appeal to help more than two million people in the Asia Pacific region, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Samoan Islands and Indonesia, after a series of devastating disasters has hit the region.

Series of disasters

Typhoon Ketsana slammed into the Philippines on 26 September, killing at least 240 people and affecting more than 1.8 million. Philippine Red Cross volunteers are working round the clock in search and rescue operations. They are also providing safe shelter, hot meals and blankets for survivors.

On 29 September, the typhoon moved west hitting Vietnam, where Red Cross volunteers had already warned communities of the coming storm and supported evacuation efforts of more than 160,000 people.

The same day, a strong earthquake followed by a tsunami hit the Samoan islands, in the Pacific, killing at least 90 people.

Today, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck off the west coast of Indonesia. Initial reports are of damage to buildings and at least 75 deaths with many more thought to be trapped in rubble.

Immediate response

Mike Goodhand, head of disaster management at the British Red Cross, said: “Money raised from the appeal will help address survivors’ immediate needs by supporting the life-saving relief effort of Red Cross volunteers and staff on the ground.”

The Red Cross has been working in the affected areas since the disasters began, with volunteers responding to the needs of 600,000 displaced people in the Philippines alone. This includes providing relief goods, comforting traumatised families and giving first aid to the sick and injured.

The Red Cross has also opened 130 evacuation centres and volunteers have saved more than 400 people from rooftops and high walls during terrible flooding. Assessments of damage throughout Manila and other areas in the Philippines are underway.

Find out more about how we are helping in the region

Escalating disaster

Mike said: “This is clearly a major disaster that is rapidly escalating with continued bad weather. Hundreds of thousands in the Philippines are now homeless and over two hundred dead from the last estimates. There is also grave concern about the impact of the typhoon on Vietnam.

“The British Red Cross is doing all it can to monitor the situation as it develops and has already donated £50,000 from its Disaster Fund for the initial emergency response. But we urgently need donations to continue supporting the relief effort, so those affected receive the help they desperately need.”  

The Asia Pacific Disasters Appeal will cover past, present and near future flooding events in a number of countries throughout the region, including those currently affected and those potentially affected in the future.

In the event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.

Find out more about the Asia Pacific Disasters Appeal