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Australia: Swift Response to Philippines Landslide

Australia Provides Swift Response to Philippines Landslide

Australia has offered $1 million in immediate relief and medical assistance to victims of the landslide in the southern Philippines.

The funds will be made available to the Philippines National Red Cross and other key relief agencies to assist with the most immediate tasks of evacuating survivors, setting up shelters and trauma counselling, as well as meeting the more basic needs of food, clothing and related emergency items.

Australia offers condolences to the families of the victims. Australian officials are closely monitoring reports from the Philippines Government and the Red Cross and stand ready to offer additional assistance if necessary.

The landslide which has engulfed the village of Guinsaugon in the southern Leyte province followed two weeks of heavy rain in the region. The village had a population of 2,500 and 385 houses, including an occupied primary school. Only three houses remain.

Early estimates by the Philippines National Red Cross and the United Nations put the estimated death toll at 200, with another 1,500 people missing. However this figure is expected to rise given the area had a broader population of 3000 and heavy rains continue, hampering rescue efforts.

Australia and the Philippines are close regional partners and the two countries share an interest in reducing poverty and improving stability and security in the Philippines.

Australia's aid program in the Philippines focuses on economic governance, strengthening security and stability through counter-terrorism cooperation and raising the living standards of the rural poor in the south of the country.

Australia, through its international aid agency AusAID has allocated $63.7 million in overseas development assistance to the Philippines in 2005-06.

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