125 shelter packs provided by the Department for International Development (DFID), each containing 4 family-sized kits, and nearly 1,000 litres of fresh drinking water, have been distributed by HMS Daring to communities on the islands of Canas, Calagnaan and Tulunanaun to the north east of the island of Panay.
In all of these areas the storm destroyed housing and infrastructure, leaving families out in the open and vulnerable to the elements and high midday temperatures. One of the most remote communities had been without food or fresh water since the typhoon struck.
‘We are going to stay in this area overnight and tomorrow and then head back to Cebu to pick up some more supplies,’ said HMS Daring’s Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander Steven Wall.
‘There are people here that are clearly suffering – their wells have been contaminated by seawater and they have no shelter. There have been no fatalities recorded from any of the islands today but they have been living in arduous conditions. People on Tulunanaun island for example have been living underneath piles of rubbish to try and escape the elements, so they were particularly in need of shelter. Most areas do have food supplies and communities are passing aid around the islands to each other, which is good, but we have found some evidence of areas that are just not being reached, so there is more to do here.’
The ship has been delivering the aid to the shore by sea boat and has also landed the medical team on board, who were deployed to the Philippines by DFID, on various islands to attend to the population’s healthcare needs and deal with any emergent issues.
On Canas, where the community had been particularly badly affected, the medics required extra medical supplies to be sent from the ship. Although there had been no deaths, there were many people with infected laceration wounds from flying debris, including one child, and medics treated more than 100 people.
‘The team out there had been asked to treat a small child who had an infection to a wound in her face,” said Lieutenant Commander Wall. “So as soon as the call came in we despatched 2 bottles of children’s antibiotics across to treat her.’
On Calagnaan, a neighbouring village had provided people with aid distributed by HMS Daring previously and several local charitable organisations that had arrived days after the storm. However one small community that was almost impossible to reach, and which was not being supported by neighbouring districts, had no access to any food. The storm had ruined their crops and smashed their fishing boats so they had not been able to source their own food:
‘These people survived the typhoon by hiding in a cave further up the hill,” said HMS Daring’s Air Warfare Officer Lieutenant Commander Teilo Elliot-Smith. ‘When we landed, which was particularly hazardous as there was an extensive area of coral so we had to wade ashore, a woman came running up to me crying and pulling on my sleeves. She was saying they hadn’t eaten for 2 days and they had run out of all their supplies.’
The sailors brought the village of around 75 people the aid they needed and put together a report for DFID to send back to local government.
The last island to be visited was Tulunanaun, which had run out of fresh drinking water and, after an initial drop of 500 litres, the sailors returned with additional supplies.
HMS Daring is the first in class of the Royal Navy’s 6 new Type 45 destroyers, which are the largest and most powerful destroyers ever built for the Navy.
A Portsmouth-based air defence warship, she is two-thirds of the way through a 9-
month deployment and was taking part in an exercise with Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia as part of the Five Power Defence Arrangements when she was retasked to the Philippines.
(Photos are thanks to Leading Airman, Keith Morgan, Crown Copyright.)