Feature
Catherine Jones

As typhoon Yolanda (also called as Typhoon Haiyan) tore through the Philippines it was inevitable that there would be significant damage to the diving infrastructure in the areas that were affected. The Philippines is a poor country and it can take a long time for people to recover from disasters like these - as always it is the least fortunate that suffer the most.

It is important to remember that the Philippines is a large country and despite the scale of the typhoon the majority of islands were not affected. If you have a trip planned - we recommend checking with the Dive Centre you have booked with before you go – and perhaps if they are in an affected area if there is anything you can do to help with the relief effort.

Our feature writer, Charles Davis, who is based in the Philippines reached out to Dive Centres to see if there were any on-the-ground updates and we will post updates on dive locations as they come in.

The following report comes from Rock Steady Dive Center- they are based on Coron, a small town on Busuanga Island – the largets island on the Calamianes Group located in the north of Palawan.

They are running an appeal in conjunction with a local guest house where you can donate direct to them where they can efficiently deliver aid and support to the local people who need it most. You can donate by sending a PayPal payment to [email protected] -  They are posting a screen shot of every donation here.

Typhoon Yolanda Report – Karin and Gerd – RockSteadyDiveCenter

“Coron was hidden badly from the typhoon, Coron divers lost complete their shop and 3 boats, SeaDive lost their big boat blue and a newer boat, Dive Cal lost all their boats, Amphibi Ko lost all their boats. Corto Divers and ourselves were really lucky to have only minor fixes required – e.g. plywood. We will operate on Monday again as our staff is out on the streets to help with relief goods for people in need.
 
The big damages are on the houses at the water front area built up with Sawali, as well in the Barios where only concrete houses are still standing. The impact of the typhoon was so strong that no tree is standing anymore. 

- The whole power line is destroyed, estimation is 4 weeks to get at least the main power line in running condition again. One water supplier "mactan" can’t operate, only Nawasa Water Company has no damages.
- Most smaller boats for fishing or island hopping are badly damaged.
- Opposite of Coron is the small town Lahala.... one house is only standing anymore. Degabobo has 50 died person and no house is standing.
- Chindonan village and resort/Diveshop are gone.
- Sangat Island was lucky with minor damages.
- The other side of Coron Island, near Cathedrale the villages are badly destroyed and boats will bring goods today there.
- Smart tower is gone only globe is running.
- The cross at Mount Tapias is gone.
- Most houses are badly damaged in town, big hotels have damages too like Westown hotel lost the second floor and all windows are smashed. - Kokosnuss Garden Resort is badly damaged only the concrete house is still standing.
 
The roads are finally free to get the trucks to the river to supply the town with water. The ferries are coming from manila today with fuel and hopefully rice, military helicopters came in the last view days with cloths and can goods."

Some explanation of a few words:

Coron is an island towards the western coast of the Philippines. The furthest from initial landfall.

Globe and smart are largest cell phone networks, together about 90% of market.

Barrio is an section of a town, like a ward or district. However as a general term it usually refers to a area outside the built up area of the town.  In some areas a barrio may be 20 km away from the town proper.

Typhoon Yolanda Report – Dive Link Resort – Near Coron

"Dive Link Resort is fully operational, the town is devastated though. Some homes were destroyed and casualties are very few as of the moment (unofficial). This is from the Manila Office which we also just get feedback from the resort for updates and news. Flights have been resumed in Coron, but very limited.

Tour sites have minimal damage too since they don't have much infrastructure. Please do email us if you would like to extend help to Coron, we are coordinating with other organizations to lend support to our fellow countrymen affected by the typhoon."

Typhoon Yolanda Report,  Samar – Charles Davis

Samar is in the area of the second landfall where there winds were still at 195mph. The town he lives in is totally destroyed, only a few buildings and trees are left standing. No electric and no fresh water. Emergency relief has not been able to reach them yet and people have no food or meds.

Over all I saw one estimate that 4.2 million people have been  seriously affected and that over 200,000 homes have been destroyed. There no true official death toll but international aid organizations have said the 10,000 number that been mentioned is on the low side. There is a fear that many thousands more will die due to starvation or disease before aid can reach them.

On the positive side, the US navy has sent an aircraft carrier and marines which was due to arrive in Leyte today. It will be able to create enough fresh water to help with that problem and has a full medical facility. But the city (of 200 thousand) has been without food and water for almost a week!

You can also donate to the following organisations that are working to support those affected by the Typhoon:

UNICEF

 THE RED CROSS

OXFAM

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