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The Lynx Mark 8 from 815 Naval Air Squadron is flying for up to 8 hours a day, with regular trips back to Daring to refuel, to provide aerial photographs of the ground below.
First to be examined was Palawan Island and all the associated islands north as far as Linapacan and the Linapacan Strait. The Lynx flew at 500 feet dipping up and down as the crew closely surveyed the ground below.
No storm damage was spotted during the first recce, but the helicopter is due to take off again to look at islands north west of the ship’s position in the Sulu Sea.
Flight Commander Joe Harper said:
There is no evidence of destruction or damage up to the Linapacan Strait as far as the typhoon is concerned. We are due to launch again to examine other islands further north.
It is good news for those areas that they have escaped the devastation seen elsewhere and it means we can concentrate on finding others who need assistance.
As the ship continues north, Flight Commander Harper and pilot Lieutenant Hamish Walker will next fly the Lynx east of Daring over Cuyo, Culion and Busuanga islands before later turning their attention to the larger populations of Negros and Panay.
It is not yet known how many of these areas have been affected as there has been no contact with them since the typhoon struck.
Commander Angus Essenhigh, Commanding Officer of HMS Daring, said:
It is imperative that we survey these remote areas as we do not believe they have received any assistance to date.
If the imagery comes back and demonstrates that there are people there in desperate need of help then we will be first on the scene and can offer them a significant amount of support.
The Portsmouth-based warship, which is on a 9-month around-the-world deployment, has more than 200 personnel on board, all of whom are trained in humanitarian disaster relief operations.
As well as casualty search teams and a large number of first aiders, HMS Daring has on board a Royal Navy chaplain, dentist, doctor, and engineers in a number of specialisations, as well as boat and air crews.
The ship also has 700 ration packs, 550 litres of bottled water (100,000 litres of potable water can also be produced from seawater within 24 hours), firefighting equipment, thermal imaging cameras and an emergency relief pack containing generators, floodlighting and rescue equipment.