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Three people lost their lives and many were wounded from being hit by flying objects, with little medical care provided as there was just 1 nurse with dwindling medical supplies.
After spotting the island’s distress call, where the word ‘HELP’ was spelt out on a playground, HMS Daring brought a medical team from Save the Children to set up clinics around the main villages.
Island nurse Angeleigh Espinosa is on a year’s contract to be the island’s main medical carer, and works at her clinic with a part-time midwife:
The majority of people I see have coughs and aches and pains but when the storm came I had a lot of people coming in with big wounds,” she said.
Most of them had been hit by nails that flew out of the buildings and gave them puncture wounds.
We are very glad to see the medical teams and the ship because we were running out of bandages and bandage tape and a few other medical supplies and I wasn’t sure if I could get any more very quickly.
A team of sailors also set to work to repair the local school’s roof which had been completely stripped of its corrugated iron sheets, and cleared the inside of debris and stagnant water.
The children have not been able to go to school for more than a week, but classes should begin again tomorrow.
As well as repairing the buildings, the sailors cleared fallen trees, and electrical teams assessed the extent of damage to one of the 2 generators for the village’s power supply.
One generator is fully serviceable,” explained Deputy Marine Engineering Officer Lieutenant Wendy Frame.
The other has some minor defects as the wind moved it away from its stand, but they have enough fuel to run them both so they are not short of that supply.
The issue is that the power lines are down and we have spoken to the Department for International Development representatives on board who will report the issue to the authorities to get it fixed for them.
The ship’s crew handed out 137 shelter packs which each contain 4 shelters. Just one can cover a house, sheltering large families of between 5 and 10 people at a time.
The local water well was also checked, and although there was some initial concern about possible contamination, there have been very few incidents of sickness.
All villagers use tablets to purify their drinking water which are passed to them by the island nurse.
Other areas of the island also suffered extensive damage, including the villages of Bitoon, Pasiil and Langob and their suburbs, where shelter was deemed the highest priority by the local people.
Officer of the Watch Lieutenant Rebecca Brown said:
Many of the smaller fishing villages were devastated as, apart from a few concrete structures that were still standing, their houses were made from bamboo and rush so they were completely flattened.
Their fishing boats were also destroyed which in turn affects their livelihoods.
One woman, an 85-year-old, told me it was the worst storm she had seen hit the island and that she and her son had been completely terrified.
Hopefully these shelter kits will give them some desperately needed shade and somewhere to sleep while they try and rebuild their lives.
Antonio Ulises Perez of Save the Children said they hoped they had made a significant impact on the population’s health.
You always arrive and think that you might not be able to make much of an impact,” he said, “but today we helped a great many people and covered a number of life-saving needs.
The sailors have been amazing – they are so committed and motivated and their logistics are extremely impressive.
HMS Daring is the first in class of the Royal Navy’s 6 new Type 45 destroyers, which are the largest and most powerful destroyers ever built for the Navy.
A Portsmouth-based air defence warship, she is two-thirds of the way through a 9-month deployment and was taking part in an exercise with Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia as part of the Five Power Defence Arrangements when she was retasked to the Philippines.
Following the distribution of aid on Guintacan she will now go to the north east coast of Panay to provide assistance to a small group of islands there.