Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Queen's message to typhoon victims

HMS Daring, which is to be deployed to the Philippines to help the millions of people affected by the devastating typhoon

The Queen has sent a message expressing her "heartfelt condolences" to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

"I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of life and devastation caused by the typhoon that hit the Philippines at the weekend," she said in a message to Philippine president Benigno Aquino III.

"Prince Philip joins me in offering our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families at this difficult time.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to all those whose lives have been affected. Elizabeth R."

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the Queen had also made a personal donation to the appeal to help those affected by the devastating typhoon.

The Queen's message came after the Government announced it will match public donations to leading UK charities raising funds for the disaster-hit Philippines pound for pound.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said that under a new agreement with the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC), the first £5 million donated by members of the public to the appeal will be matched.

The Government had already committed £10 million in aid, so the additional £5 million commitment will increase the UK's support to £15 million in total.

Announcing the extra funding, Ms Greening said: "This will ensure leading charities have the resources they need to help victims of the typhoon."

A team of British medical experts, a Royal Navy warship and an RAF transport aircraft are heading to the stricken island nation, which was devastated by a typhoon leaving thousands dead.

Recent speech by Galloway

Prime Minister David Cameron described the scenes of devastation caused by the powerful cyclone as "heart-breaking".

Typhoon Haiyan - said to be the strongest ever to make landfall - has made roads impassable and left airports out of action, severely hampering relief efforts.

Myleene Klass, who is fronting the DEC appeal, said: "I have family out there in the Philippines that have survived this, but they really are the lucky ones, as for so many right now the story is so tragically different.

"It's hard to comprehend the catastrophic impact of Typhoon Haiyan until we realise that behind the huge numbers are real people, someone's father, mother or child. And that each one of us can help save each one of them."

Mr Cameron said the DEC's appeal was a "vital step to ensure aid agencies can provide essential relief to those most affected by this unprecedented disaster".

"We've all seen the appalling devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, with heart-breaking scenes played across our TV screens," he said.

"I am proud that the British public have always shown an unfailing generosity for helping those in need and I know their response to this appeal will be no different."

The UK support will provide aid flights to Cebu in the eastern Philippines to deliver forklift trucks, cutting equipment, 4x4s and other kit to help clear and reopen runways and roads.

It will enable the delivery of life-saving supplies such as temporary shelters, blankets and water purification tablets to 300,000 people, along with buckets, soap and sanitary items to prevent the spread of disease.

The Salvation Army UK and Ireland announced tonight it has launched its own disaster appeal and is making arrangements to transport food parcels, water and medical supplies to the stricken city of Tacloban.

Meanwhile Save the Children said it was helping survivors who were having to cope with the ''worst possible conditions''.

Lynette Lim, of the charity, said: ''We are working round the clock to offer the basic life essentials to the 4.3 million people we estimate are affected.

''We are witnessing the complete devastation of a city. In Tacloban everything is flattened. Bodies litter the street, many, many of which are children. From what I saw, two out of every five bodies was that of a child.

''Children are particularly vulnerable in disasters. We fear for how many children have been washed away in floods, crushed under falling buildings and injured by flying debris. Many are separated from their families amid the devastation, and all are in desperate need of food, water and shelter.''

Handicap International said it was sending a team of emergency specialists to support its staff already working in the Asian country. These specialists will help the most vulnerable individuals, such as people with disabilities, older people and children.

''The devastation is worse than in Bandah Aceh, Indonesia, following the 2004 tsunami,'' said Edith van Wijngaarden, the charity's programme director in the Philippines.

''I'm particularly worried about the most vulnerable individuals. When nothing is left standing and the local infrastructure has been destroyed, people with disabilities, older people and children are particularly vulnerable.''

The UK medical and surgical team will include three emergency physicians, two orthopaedic surgeons, one plastic surgeon, two accident and emergency nurses, one theatre nurse, two anaesthetists and one specialist physiotherapist.

It is being led by Manchester University professor of international emergency medicine Anthony Redmond, who has provided emergency humanitarian medical assistance after natural disasters and other complex emergencies throughout the world, including in Haiti where he led a team of surgeons.

Type-45 destroyer HMS Daring had just begun Exercise Bersama Lima when it was re-tasked to join the humanitarian relief effort.

Its commanding officer, Commander Angus Essenhigh, said: "The speed at which we have reorganised ourselves to prepare to help those in such desperate need in the Philippines demonstrates the flexibility of the Royal Navy and the high standards of my team on board.

"We are fully prepared to assist with the aid effort having been trained in disaster relief shortly before we deployed and are ready to put those skills to good use."

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