MANILA -- Typhoon Mirinae, packing winds of 185 km/h, hit Luzon Island in the Philippines on October 31, inundating already flooded communities, damaging roads and over 5,500 houses, provoking widespread power outages and prompting the evacuation of more than 115,000 people.
“This latest typhoon has hit vulnerable people already struggling to cope after the previous storms and flooding. It has made our food assistance even more important to them,” said WFP Country Director Stephen Anderson.
Four major tropical storms have now struck the country in rapid succession in little more than a month. Meanwhile, a low pressure area over the ocean east of Luzon is expected to bring more heavy rains in coming days to Northern Luzon where farmers have already been severely affected.
In the wake of Mirinae, WFP helicopters have resumed airlifting of WFP food and government relief supplies to cut-off areas in and around Laguna de Bay, the huge inland lake south-east of Manila that has overflowed its shores.
WFP is concerned by the unusually frequent storms so late in the normal typhoon season as each one slows down urgent food deliveries to beneficiaries.
Rice crop hit
Since 28 September, WFP has despatched 4,100 tons of rice, 157 tons of High Energy Biscuits and 136 tons of vegetable oil to reach an estimated 680,000 people affected by Tropical Storm Ketsana (Ondoy locally) and Typhoon Parma (Pepeng locally).
The Philippines government has estimated that the storms have destroyed 1.1 million tons of yet-to-be harvested rice paddy, affecting some 500,000 farmers.
The Philippines is already the world’s largest rice importer and recent rice losses due to floods, compounded by rice crop failure in India as a result of drought, are raising concerns about possible rice shortages and higher prices.