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Cablegate: U.S. Agencies Deliver Critical Help

VZCZCXRO4749
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1543 1790922
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 270922Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1127
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANILA 001543

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID SOCI EAGR SENV RP
SUBJECT: U.S. AGENCIES DELIVER CRITICAL HELP

REF: A) MANILA 1504 B) Manila 1521

1. Summary: U.S. recovery and relief efforts have had a huge impact
in the aftermath of Typhoon Frank, which ravaged the Philippines
June 21-22. The rising death toll from the typhoon itself is at
least 629 and more than 287 missing. Only 57 people have survived
from the capsized ferry Princess of the Stars and two American
Citizens are among those presumed dead. Possibilities of recovering
more survivors among 800 plus passengers and crew on board are slim,
so total casualties from the typhoon are expected to exceed 1,200.
Assistance from the U.S. military and post has been crucial to the
recovery efforts of the Philippine Government. End Summary

2. USS RONALD REAGAN and its carrier group, the USNS STOCKHAM,
helicopters, Navy P-3 maritime surveillance aircraft, eight Mission
personnel, and two USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
personnel are in the area and have been working closely with
Philippine military and government personnel and non-governmental
organizations to conduct search operations, deliver relief goods and
services, and inform the media of results.

3. On June 21, Typhoon Frank affected half a million people in 48
provinces. Eight provinces have been declared under a state of
calamity, making them eligible for Philippine government funds. In
addition to the deaths from the Princess of the Stars, ten other
vessels and boats sank and there were deaths caused by flash floods,
falling debris, and electrocution. According to the National
Disaster Coordination Council, the typhoon caused $33 million of
infrastructure damage, $11 million of damage to schools and other
public buildings, and $108 million in agricultural damage.
Additionally, 178,467 homes sustained damage.

4. One American family (two citizens and three legal permanent
residents) boarded the ferry and are presumed dead. American
Citizen Services has combed the ferry's 800-person manifest, and has
identified seven other passengers who might be U.S. citizens, but
there is no confirmation these individuals boarded the ferry. Of
over 80 welfare and whereabouts queries, all but 15 have been
resolved.

5. The U.S. Navy vessel USNS STOCKHAM, with two search-and-rescue
capable helicopters, small boats, and an underwater scuba team, was
deployed June 24 to find survivors and locate bodies from the
Princess of the Stars. Two P-3 maritime surveillance aircraft have
provided imagery of the Panay Island and the area surrounding
Sibuyan Island, where the ferry sank. U.S. troop scuba operations
ceased June 26 as prospects for finding survivors decreased.

6. USS RONALD REAGAN arrived west of Panay Island on June 25.
Helicopters from the REAGAN have delivered 28,000 bottles of water
and 10,000 lbs. of rice and bottled water from the carrier group's
stores to otherwise inaccessible areas and are conducting damage
assessments and watershed surveys. They are now transporting
Philippine relief supplies to affected persons, as well. Three
hospitals on Panay were without power: Reagan engineers fixed one
hospital generator and may purchase generators to cover other needs.
Reagan's medical service officer went ashore June 27 to conduct an
initial assessment in areas that have not been accessible by ground.


7. Two Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) staff joined
USAID and embassy staff on the ground in Iloilo on June 26 and will
stay through July 5. OFDA placed an additional person at PACOM to
coordinate assistance. OFDA has scheduled a relief flight,
estimated to land on June 29 in Iloilo, with $650,000 of goods for
the Philippine Red Cross, augmenting the $100,000 cash donation
already provided.

8. A Joint Information Coordination Center has been established by
the Embassy Public Affairs Section, the Reagan's Public Affairs
Officer, and the Philippine Government. They continue to compile,
clear and release images and information to the local media.

9. Ambassador will be visiting Panay on June 29 to observe relief
operations and meet with U.S. and Philippine officials involved.

KENNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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