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Cablegate: Recent Floods and Landslides Damage Eastern Philippines

VZCZCXRO0539
OO RUEHCHI RUEHFK RUEHHM RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHPB
DE RUEHML #0513 0600444
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 290444Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9930
INFO RUEHZU/APEC COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANILA 000513

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/EX AND EAP/MTS
STATE PASS USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID SOCI EAGR SENV RP
SUBJECT: Recent Floods and Landslides Damage Eastern Philippines

1. Summary: Torrential rains have caused widespread flooding and
landslides in parts of Luzon, Eastern Visayas and Northwestern
Mindanao in the Philippines, resulting in deaths and property
damage. National and local governmental authorities are providing
shelters and monetary relief. Embassy Manila is monitoring the
situation and does not suggest USG assistance at this time. End
Summary.

2. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical
Services Administration (PAGASA) reported that the heavy rains that
lashed several parts of the country are an effect of the La Nia
phenomenon, which has been prevailing since the first half of
January and is forecast to persist until August 2008. Nearly a
million people have been affected as a strong low pressure system
from February 12 - 17 dumped heavy rains in Luzon's Bicol Region;
the Provinces of Oriental Mindoro, which is just below the southwest
coast of Luzon island; Capiz in the Visayas; and Lanao del Norte,
Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, and Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao.
Residual rains continue to add to the growing number of injuries,
deaths, and crop and infrastructure damage.
3. As of February 27, the Philippines' National Disaster
Coordinating Council reports that the continuous rains affected a
total of 873,009 people and resulted in 45 deaths, 31 injuries, and
eight missing persons. 41,472 people are in evacuation centers and
362,253 people are staying in host communities or with relatives.
Additionally, the disaster has destroyed 2,001 houses and partially
damaged 3,740 houses. Damage to infrastructure and agriculture is
estimated at $32.8 million.
4. Eastern Samar was particularly hard hit with 173,969 people
affected, including 14 deaths and 15 injuries. At the regional
level, Eastern Visayas, which includes Eastern Samar, an isolated
area already plagued by poverty, incurred the most infrastructure
and agricultural damage, totaling $18.7 million.
5. On February 23, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo flew to
Eastern Samar to assess relief operations and released $75,000. She
promised each Eastern Visayas congressman an additional $75,000 for
their constituents. As of February 27, relief assistance from local
and national agencies and various NGOs for the victims of flooding
and landslides reached nearly $202,000.
6. PAGASA forecasts light to moderate rains in the eastern sections
of Luzon and Visayas until the weekend of March 1, but does not
predict any tropical cyclones. Embassy Manila will continue to
monitor the situation. At this time, Post does not recommend USG
disaster assistance. The national and local government authorities,
as well as private relief groups, are providing adequate assistance
to affected population, and the Philippine government has not called
for outside assistance.
7. In May and June 2008, as part of PACOM's Pacific Partnership,
personnel from the USNS MERCY ship will be airlifted to Eastern
Samar to conduct medical, dental, and engineering projects.

KENNEY

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