Monday, November 11, 2013

Container Shipping and Maritime Freight Interests Pledge Help as Drama of Typhoon Haiyen Unfolds

Japanese Have a Track Record of Assisting with so many Crews Emanating from the Philippines
Shipping News Feature

PHILIPPINES – By now the whole world knows the terrible situation unfolding across the islands in the wake of Typhoon Haiyen and, in a region so closely linked with the maritime community, offers of help from stakeholders are already flooding in. One of the first to react has been Japanese container and general shipping group Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) which has expressed its heartfelt sympathy and volunteered a donation of US$30,000 as international governments also pledge to assist.

As with so many in the industry, MOL has built a deep relationship with the nation as many Filipino seafarers serve aboard company vessels, and the group has even established a maritime training centre there. The main portion of MOL’s donation will go to afflicted people on the island of Leyte, through its group company Magsaysay MOL Marine, Inc., a crewing company in Manila established as a joint venture with Magsaysay Maritime Corporation in March 1997, and this is doubtless just the first announcement of its type from the world’s leading logistics groups.

Unfortunately, this is just the latest disaster in the country to call on the generosity of MOL. To assist afflicted people of Typhoon Fengshen in June 2008, which caused severe damage to the nation, Ketsana in September 2009 (Luzon), and Washi in December 2011 (Mindanao), MOL made monetary donations and provided ocean transport of emergency relief supplies, and MOL seafarers and Magsaysay-MOL employees conducted volunteer activities.

Others are also doing everything possible to assist the stricken nation after the typhoon struck four days ago leaving up to 10,000 dead on Leyte alone with many stranded in remote areas and towns and cities running out of essential supplies such as water and food, everywhere with collapsed buildings as a backdrop. Haiyen generated a localised tsunami with a wall of water five metres high sweeping in to devastate coastal regions already battered by the near 200 mph winds.

Many homes in the Philippines are merely wooden shacks and these have been completely swept away along with substantial damage to bridges, roads and airfields making inward deliveries of aid even more difficult and completely cutting off some areas. US forces in the form of 90 troops from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade from a US base in Okinawa, Japan began arriving today carried by C-130J Hercules supply planes ferrying a vast array of aid but with enormous quantities still needed fast to avoid further loss of life as aid agencies gear up their efforts in a bid to avert more deaths in an ever worsening situation for many.

The EU has pledged €3 million to assist and the Canadian government will match any donations by its citizens up to C$5 million whilst the Guardian has published a page with links to numerous agencies which require immediate donations, giving readers the chance to sponsor via whichever route they wish to assist. Latest news has the storm lessening with winds down to around 85 mph when it made landfall on the Vietnamese coast.

Photo: The scene greeting US airborne troops as they arrived over the Leyte coast.