BY INSI

SAFETY ADVISORY: The Philippines as at 13/11/13

Four days have passed since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, affecting millions of people.

Yesterday President Benigno Aquino III said as many as 2,500 people may have been killed, and the UN says that 673,000 have been displaced. Aid and news crews are struggling to reach the worst-hit areas because of poor or non-existent infrastructure. Electricity and phone lines remain down in parts of Letye Island, Samar Island and Cebu Island. The International Federation of the Red Cross says that food, water and medical support is 'critical' in some areas. Relief agencies are concerned about outbreaks of disease and infections.

The International News Safety Institute is issuing the following safety advisory for journalists and news crews covering the disaster. The information has been provided by INSI's South-East Asia coordinator Red Batario and the UK-based Fleet Street Clinic.

General

• Ensure you have taken a hostile environment and first aid course prior to deployment.

• Carry a medical pack/first aid kit with you at all times and know how to use it.

• Local journalists and other contacts on the ground may be able to give you updates on the situation.

• It is advisable to coordinate your travel plans with the local authorities, such as the police or the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

• Be aware that people may be desperate for food, water and fuel. There have been reports of looting in some areas. Bring jerrycans of petrol with you for your vehicle(s). Keep a low profile and ensure your supplies are not conspicuous.

• Be self-sufficient. Infrastructure will be poor or non-existent in some areas so be prepared for any eventuality.

• Take sat-phones with solar charging capability if possible. Be aware that phone lines and electricity remain down in some areas.

• Ensure you use a roadworthy vehicle with a spare tyre, and know how to change it.

• Have a supply of drinking water and bring water purifying tablets with you.

• Ensure that you have a supply of food that keeps well without refrigeration (i.e. cereal bars).

• Accommodation may be scarce so bring sleeping bags and, if possible, a tent.

 

The Fleet Street Clinic has kindly provided INSI with the following health advice for newsgatherers:

Health information for newsgathering professionals covering typhoon Haiyan (PDF)

 

INSI's advice for covering natural disasters is available here:

Covering natural disasters (link)


Note: The views here are those of the author and are personal reflections and safety advice. They are meant to assist the media in preparing to work in the Philippines and are not meant to be negative in nature. If they cause offence to anyone, sincerest apologies are offered in advance. INSI holds no responsibility for any ensuing problems, bodily harm or death in relation to this advice.

Photo: A survivor wipes his face under a Philippines national flag in typhoon ravaged Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into central Philippine provinces Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)