Thailand sending aid to typhoon battered Philippines

2In a display of solidarity among fellow countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand began dispatching aid and assistance to the Philippines last week in the wake of the massive destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra immediately sent a letter of condolence to President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines expressing her concern for the welfare of all Filipinos. She ordered several government agencies to begin preparing appropriate forms of assistance.

Over 4,000 people were killed and tens of thousands injured when Typhoon Haiyan – the strongest typhoon in recorded history with winds of over 195 miles per hour – struck the Philippines archipelago on November 8. The storm swept across the Visayas, a grouping of islands in the central Philippines. Millions of people were affected, losing homes and possessions. Damage is estimated in the billions of dollars.

The United States Navy is playing a central role in rescue and relief operations in the storm-ravaged area. The U.S. Pacific fleet, with its unrivalled capabilities, has provided life-saving assistance in previous disasters in the region, most notably during the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.

Under the direction of Prime Minister Yingluck, Thailand has also joined in the efforts to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan, called Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. In the first phase of the relief mission, a Royal Thai Air Force C-130 transport plane was sent to the Philippines carrying a mobile hospital unit and sniffing dogs. A second phase has already begun with the Royal Thai Army sending four C-130 transport planes carrying food, water, medicines and other essential supplies to those who so desperately need them.

Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha also sent a letter of condolence to his counterpart in the Army of the Philippines. GeneralPrayuth informed the Philippine military that the Thai Army is willing to assist them with all possible matters required, including financial assistance. Because of their abilities to reach people in difficult terrain, militaries almost always play a leading role in the response to natural disasters.

Minister of Public Health Pradit Sintavanarong said his ministry was sending a Medical Emergency Response Team consisting of 15 to 17 personnel, including necessary medicines.He said the team would be in the area for at least two weeks and can operate as a mobile hospital. Meanwhile, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization was ordered to supply saline solution, medicines and other medical supplies worth roughly US$670,000 to the Philippines.

As Thailand Focus went to press, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was coordinating with other Thai government agencies to determine what additional forms of humanitarian aid and assistance the Kingdom could provide to its neighbor.



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