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Cablegate: Next Steps in Assisting Typhoon Frank Victims

VZCZCXRO2620
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1521 1770954
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 250954Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1092
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHOVQHS/COMSEVENTHFLT IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANILA 001521

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, EAP/RSP, EAP/MTS
STATE PASS TO USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC EAGR EAID RP SOCI
SUBJECT: NEXT STEPS IN ASSISTING TYPHOON FRANK VICTIMS

REF: MANILA 1504: RAPID RESPONSE TO TYPHOON FRANK

1.(U) THIS IS AN ACTION MESSAGE -- SEE PARAGRAPH 6

2. (U) SUMMARY: Typhoon Frank struck the Philippines June
21-22, leaving an estimated 300 people dead, 800 missing, and
USD 22 million in property damage in 20 Philippine provinces.
The death toll is expected to rise significantly as hundreds
of bodies are recovered from the sunken ferry "Princess of
the Stars," which capsized off Sibuyan Island with at least
800 passengers and crew on board (reftel). In their June 24
meeting in Washington, President Bush and Philippine
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo agreed that the USS Ronald
Reagan and its carrier group would be dispatched to the
Philippines to render assistance. Post requests that the
Department of State send the required message to Department
of Defense to obtain approval for the Reagan carrier group
and other PACOM humanitarian relief assets to provide
assistance to the Philippines. END SUMMARY.

3. (U) Typhoon Frank ravaged 20 provinces in the Philippines
June 21-22, affecting more than half a million people, 70,000
of whom are now in evacuation centers. Although the present
death-toll estimate stands at 300, the number will climb as
bodies are recovered. In addition to devastation caused by
floods, storm surge, and landslides, the ferry "Princess of
the Stars" sank in the area of the Romblon Island chain with
742 known passengers and 130 crew members on the manifest.
According to the National Disaster Coordination Council
(NDCC), the initial property damage is estimated at USD 22
million and includes destroyed or damaged homes, school
structures, and crops. However, damage estimates are
expected to rise as the effects of the storm's flood waters
and 170 kph winds on bridges, roads, and power stations are
more fully assessed.

4. (U) In their June 24 meeting in Washington, Presidents
Bush and Arroyo agreed that the USS Ronald Reagan and its
accompanying vessels (one cruiser, two destroyers, and one
frigate) would provide humanitarian assistance to the
typhoon-stricken areas in the Philippines. Previously,
Cabinet Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita conveyed to Charge
on June 23 the Philippine government's desire for assistance
from the USG, followed by an official request from the NDCC,
which is charged with carrying out relief efforts.

5. (U) The Reagan carrier group is currently positioned off
the southwest coast of Panay Island in the central
Philippines. In addition, the USNS Stockham, with
search-and-rescue capable helicopters, small boats, and scuba
team, is in Philippine territorial waters, and is engaged in
search and recovery activities. Over the past 48 hours, a
U.S. P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft has been flying
over the Sibuyan Sea, providing images of the aftermath of
the sunken ferry "Princess of the Stars" to the Philippine
Navy and Coast Guard.

6. (U) ACTION REQUEST: Embassy Manila requests that the
Department of State send the required message to the
Department of Defense to obtain approval for DoD commands and
elements to provide disaster relief such as water
purification, emergency power, airlift capabilities, bridge,
road and building repair, medical aid and other forms of
assistance as required to assist Philippine authorities
conducting disaster-response efforts in Ilo-Ilo and other
typhoon-ravaged areas of the Philippines.
MEMMOTT

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