Photo report: Philippines emergency response

Tacloban city, Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan.

by Sean Sutton, International Communications Manager, MAG

Typhoon Haiyan caused a huge storm surge, five to eight metres high, to hit the city of Tacloban in the Philippines.

An ammunition storage depot at Tacloban airport was very badly damaged, and stored munitions (including air-to-air rockets with white phosphorous warheads) were dispersed over a wide area where civilians are currently trying to rebuild amongst the debris.

Within days of the typhoon, MAG was on the ground undertaking an assessment of the needs.

MAG in the Philippines

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At least 300 rocket warheads and motors, along with small arms, associated ammunition and .50 calibre heavy machine gun rounds were scattered by the storm, some buried in the mud and debris that has been left in the aftermath.

While military staff were able to retrieve half of the rockets and some of the heavy machine gun rounds, the authorities requested MAG's further assistance.

"We know that rocket motors from 2.75 inch rockets, which are typically used by helicopters, were dispersed by the storm surge across a wide area," explains  MAG's Senior Technical Advisor, Daan Redelinghuys.

"Sixty-one of these have already been found by the community and reported to the police. If someone was to tamper with one of the rocket motors, the highly sensitive propellent could explode – with lethal results.

"At this time, people are trying to rebuild their lives amongst the debris of the typhoon. If one accident was to happen, the fear and insecurity this would cause is the last thing that people who've already suffered so much need, and could have a huge impact on the rehabilitation efforts."

MAG trains Phlippine military personnel in Battle Area Clearance

Pictured above is MAG's Senior Technical Advisor Daan Redelinghuys training trained Philippine army, air force and navy personnel in Battle Area Clearance methodology.

large loop detector

Two weeks of intensive training included the use of specialist search equipment, such as 'large loop metal detectors' (pictured above).

MAG training Philippine military in BAC

These detectors are specifically designed for locating munitions below the surface, over a large area.

MAG training Philippine military to clear explosive weapons

The ammunition storage depot (the blue building) is visible in the background.

MAG training Philippine military in BAC

In January 2014, we sent an assessment team to conduct a formal technical needs analysis and develop an emergency response plan.

MAG training Philippine military in BAC

Following the training, MAG will provide supervision and ongoing support to the military staff as they clear the area polluted by potentially lethal explosive items.

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29 January 2014

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MAG's emergency response in the Philippines is being carried out thanks to funding from the Swiss Government and the United Nations Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation (UNSCAR).