Super Typhoon Haiyan – which experts say is potentially the strongest storm ever to make landfall – is currently battering the Philippines, flooding villages and leaving widespread devastation.
International Medical Corps emergency teams are on standby, closely monitoring the storm, coordinating with partners and prepositioning supplies for a potential response.
The super typhoon, which made landfall early Friday local time, has winds of 195 mph, and is equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane. Haiyan roared onto the country’s eastern island of Samar in the early morning hours, flooding streets and knocking out power and communications in many areas. The storm is moving east across five other Philippine islands.
Nearly 750,000 have fled to evacuation centers in anticipation of the storm. As Haiyan left hard-hit areas completely isolated without phone service or electricity, experts predict that the death toll – currently at three – will soar once relief workers are able to assess conditions. Many areas in the path of the storm are still recovering from a recent 7.1 earthquake that hit the region on October 15th, both increasing the risk of casualties and worsening potential destruction. What’s more, the recent earthquake has already overstretched national emergency response teams which leaves the potential for a large-scale humanitarian crisis.
International Medical Corps has been a first-responder to numerous natural disasters in southeast Asia, including Cyclone Phailin in India in October, the tsunami in Japan two years ago, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.