MANILA, Philippines --- The United Nations is set to launch a global appeal for aid for millions of Philippine typhoon victims as the death toll surged to 647, with nearly 800 people still missing.
UN spokeswoman Imogen Wall said UN Humanitarian Coordinator Luiza Carvalho will outline plans for an immediate aid package as well as long-term support for Mindanao, the hardest hit by typhoon “Pablo.”
“Five million people were affected and they need express assistance,” Wall, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told AFP.
“Their priority needs are food, water and shelter but there’s also a big emphasis on helping people’s livelihood,” she said.
“So many farmers have lost their crops and it’s such a poor area. People need to earn money immediately and agriculture has to be rehabilitated,” she added.
She declined to give an estimate of the needs of the hard-hit region, the centre of both the country’s banana as well as gold mining industries.
But she said a number of villages were still completely cut off and not receiving any aid, a week after the typhoon struck.
The region would need sustained assistance for at least six months, she added.
Carvalho is due to outline the aid plans at 0730 GMT in Davao city, near the area worst hit by the typhoon.
The National Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in Manila said 647 corpses had been recovered after landslides and floods obliterated entire communities in the typhoon’s path.
A total of 780 people are still missing, including about 312 fishermen from General Santos, the country’s tuna capital, who had put to sea ahead of “Pablo’s” landfall.
The Philippine Coast Guard said Monday that search and rescue operations were ongoing for the 312 fishermen and their 45 fishing vessels that sank in the waters off Southern Mindanao last week due to typhoon “Pablo,” Commodore George Ursabia, district commander of PCG Southeastern Mindanao, said.
Ursabia said some 16 survivors were already rescued in various parts of Mindanao while four others were confirmed dead.
NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos has said many of those missing could be among the hundreds of unidentified bodies, many of them bloated beyond recognition.
Latest report from the NDRRMC also showed 1,482 were injured and 109 have been rescued.
The NDRRMC likewise said damage caused by “Pablo” went up further to P7.116 billion with P3.47 billion in infrastructure, P3.61 billion in agriculture, and P18.38 million in private properties.
The number of affected population was also placed at 587,364 families or 5,412,140 people in 1,928 barangays (villages) in 259 towns and 38 cities in 30 provinces. Of the total affected population, 29,390 families or 133,892 people are currently being served in 172 evacuation centers.
“Pablo” likewise totally destroyed 32,817 houses and partially damaged 38,053 others.
Yesterday, the Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) said the Indonesian government has donated four tons of relief good and $1 million for the typhoon victims, particularly those in major islands and provinces in Mindanao worst hit by the typhoon.
The check for the $1-million donation from the Indonesian was handed over to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa by Admiral Agus Suhartono, the Chief of the Indonesian National Defense Force, at the in symbolic presentation of humanitarian aid and assistance that include 1,000 units of military blanket; 3,000 packs of ready-to-eat meals; and 50 boxes of instant noodles at the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) headquarters in Davao City.
The financial aid and the relief packs were then turned over to Liza Mazo, director of Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Region 11.
On Monday, Dellosa formally welcomed Suhartono at the Eastmincom headquarters where the two officials also signed the “Terms of Reference of the Joint Understanding of Philippines-Indonesia Military Cooperation” (PHILINDO MC).
Suhartono was also awarded the Philippine Legion of Honor – the highest award the President can bestow without the need for approval of Congress. This is for his strong commitment in deepening the military cooperation between the Philippines and the Indonesian military.
The United States and Japan have also announced more humanitarian aid for the typhoon victims.
US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. said on his Twitter account early Monday the US government is giving $3 million more for the victims, in addition to the $100,000 it has initially provided for the victims of Pablo.
The US Department of Defense had earlier also said, “At the request of the government of Philippines, Secretary (Leon) Panetta has directed U.S. Pacific Command to support U.S. government humanitarian relief operations in the Philippines in the wake of typhoon Bopha.”
The Japanese embassy also announced over the weekend its government is providing an emergency assistance of Y45 million (about P22 million) for the victims of “Pablo.” The assistance, which will be in the form of relief items such as tents, jerry cans, sleeping pads and plastic sheeting, will be coursed through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
NDRRMC head Ramos said the British government and Malaysia governments, as well as, the United Nations through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) have likewise sent assistance to the Philippine government.
In his remarks at the Pagcor gift-giving rites, President Aquino admitted he was sad to see the holiday spirits were doused in the storm-affected areas but expressed optimism that Filipinos will continue to serve countrymen in need and overcome this difficult period.
Meanwhile, “Pablo” has dissolved as northeast monsoon, locally called “hanging amihan,” affects Northern Luzon, state weather forecasters said.
It finally dissipated Monday, after it turned around toward the country over the weekend.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said “Pablo” dissipated due to the strong northeast monsoon affecting the country.
It is forecast that Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and the Ilocos Region will have cloudy skies with light rains.
Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will be partly cloudy with brief rain showers, while the rest of the country will have brief rain showers or thunderstorms. (With reports from Raymund F. Antonio and Ellalyn B. de Vera)