17 Nov 2013

On the UK aid trail: relief effort arrives in Philippines

HMS Daring arrives at the crisis zone in the Philippines as part of the UK’s emergency response to Typhoon Haiyan as the search for missing Brits continues.

The type 45 destroyer and her crew have docked at the island of Cebu ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the areas devastated by the disaster.

It has spent the last three days carrying out reconnaissance work in and around the Philippines, using a helicopter to survey the areas which have not yet been reached by international relief teams.

The helicopter will now be used to fly shelter kits, food and medical supplies to those remote areas.

Missing Brits

A number of Britons are missing following the typhoon, Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed on Saturday.

Among those feared dead is Colin Bembridge, 61, from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, who was staying with his Filipino partner Maybelle, 35, and their three-year-old daughter Victoria near the city of Tacloban when the storm struck.

Channel 4 News said Mr Bembridge was visiting his girlfriend’s relatives and had hired a beach house in Baybay, one of the ravaged coastal villages.

The mother of Mr Bembridge’s partner, 79-year-old Lydia, showed the programme the wreckage of the beach house where her daughter and granddaughter were staying, and said they had not been seen since the typhoon struck eight days ago.

Read more: Searching for a British family after Typhoon Haiyan

Members of the 12-strong medical team from the UK, which arrived in the Philippines earlier this week, will also be flown to different areas to treat injured victims of the typhoon.

Save the Children said a barge carrying more than 25 tonnes of aid items and essential household kits is also expected to reach the Asian nation on Sunday.

On Monday, a British Airways jet will depart the UK after offering aid agencies including Oxfam, Save the Children and Unicef the aircraft to fly emergency aid and supplies to the disaster zone.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Mr Hague spoke on the phone to Philippines secretary for foreign affairs Albert Ferreros Del Rosario to offer his condolences.

“The foreign secretary confirmed that a number of British nationals remained unaccounted for,” the spokesman added. “He asked that every possible assistance be given to any British people caught up in the disaster.”

Emergency medical supplies

On Saturday, an RAF C-17 plane carrying heavy duty vehicles and emergency medical supplies touched down in Cebu province to deliver two JCB diggers, two Land Rovers and a forklift truck after leaving RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Friday.

The logistical equipment will help with the distribution of aid, clear debris left by the storm and with reconstruction work to help the millions who have been displaced.

The news of the huge response to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) appeal comes after the BBC announced its annual Children in Need fundraiser raised a record £31m for disadvantaged children and young adults in the UK.

Speaking on behalf of the 14 UK charities which make up the DEC, its chief executive Saleh Saeed said: “The generosity of the public is yet again surpassing all expectations.”

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: “HMS Daring’s arrival is a major boost to DFID’s disaster experts and medical teams already deployed in the Philippines.

This Royal Navy vessel will help us open a lifeline and allow us to help many more victims of the disaster.”

A DFID flight is also due to depart East Midlands Airport later today, loaded with more than 95 tonnes of aid including water and sanitation equipment along with vital supplies on behalf of Save the Children and Oxfam.

Read more: On the aid trail: delivering relief when disaster strikes

“More British help is on its way,” Ms Greening added.

“This latest flight will be full of medical supplies, water tankers and forklifts to get aid moving and help clear bottlenecks at the airports.

“The British people have shown huge generosity over the past days and DFID is working with charities to make sure all their donations get to those who need it most.”

HMS Daring’s Lynx helicopter has spent three days surveying Panay and other islands near Cebu which have not yet been reached by humanitarian agencies.

The ship will now be used to load, transport and distribute 500 shelter kits onto previously-identified islands along with 10 tonnes of high-energy biscuits.

It will also use its own water filters to fill 1,900 water carriers with clean drinking water across the region.