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UN team arrives in Philippines after landslide

UN assessment team arrives in Philippines after last week’s deadly landslide

Following the deadly landslide in the Philippines, where almost 1,400 people are still missing, the United Nations coordinating unit said today that a UN assessment team had now arrived in the country and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) had mobilized an additional $100,000 to help the victims.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that the Philippine Government, which has welcomed international assistance after Friday’s disaster, had reported 81 fatalities and more than 400 people rescued following the landslide that engulfed the village of Guinsaugon.

“Given the significant national and international response, with more than 1,000 personnel supporting search and rescue operations and more than two hundred providing relief and emergency medical services, the Government has emphasized the need for effective coordination to maximize the effectiveness of the resources deployed,” OCHA said.

“A ‘no fly zone’ has been declared around Guinsaugon due to concerns that helicopter downwash could trigger additional landslides. This has further complicated access to the site,” OCHA added.

The landslide was caused by heavy rains but OCHA said that although the weather was cloudy in the area today, there was no rain and none was expected, although there could be flooding in nearby areas because the landslides also blocked tributaries of a major river.

OCHA said that the Government had deployed almost 800 personnel to support the rescue and relief operations, while the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided health kits and essential medicine for 10,000 people affected by the disaster. The $100,000 provided by UNDP is in addition to an emergency grant of $50,000 extended by OCHA on Friday.

Since the disaster, 11 villages surrounding Guinsaugon, which is in Southern Leyte Province, had been evacuated as a preventive measure, OCHA said, adding that the Philippine Geosciences Bureau was estimating that the landslide is 4 metres deep and covers an area of approximately 3 square kilometres.

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