Travel advice to Philippines hardened

Travel advice to Philippines hardened

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Government travel advice has been hardened for the region in the Philippines devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising against all but essential travel to the eastern Visayas region of the Philippines where the typhoon caused extensive damage.

The update came as cruise lines offered support to Filipino crew and relief efforts were stepped up to assist families of the estimated 10,000 killed and more than nine million reported by the United Nations to have been affected.

The FCO said: “The provinces of Samar and Leyte were particularly badly damaged and there are food and water shortages in both provinces, along with deteriorating health conditions, poor communications and an ongoing relief effort.

“Several other provinces in central Philippines were also badly damaged by the typhoon. You should check on local conditions before you decide to travel. If you’re in one of the affected regions, you should continue to follow the advice of local emergency authorities and let family and friends know you’re safe.”

Although downgraded, weather system Haiyan hit northern Vietnam, where at least 13 are reported to have been killed, before bringing heavy rainstorms to southern China.

Travellers to Vietnam were urged by the FCO to monitor local news, follow the advice issued by the Vietnamese authorities and take sensible precautions.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, which employs most of its crew on its four cruise ships from the Philippines, said many of their family and friends have been affected by the storm.

The line said it is facilitating the return home of a number of staff from the most devastated areas, and is sending a sizeable donation to its crewing agent in the region – Bahia Shipping – to distribute to families in urgent need of help.

After customers also expressed their concern and asked how they can help the cruise line is establishing a fund to help victims related to its crew members, and donations will be distributed through its crewing agent.

Guests currently on board Fred Olsen ships can contribute through their onboard cabin accounts by completing a donation slip.

Mike Rodwell, managing director of Fred Olsen, said: "This is a very worrying time for many of our crew, with families in the Philippines, and we are offering them as much support as we can at this extremely difficult time.

“As a company, we want to do as much as possible to help those of our seafarers and their families who are most in need, and we are all very touched by the concern shown by so many of our guests for the crew and their loved ones."

Fred Olsen is also running activities and events with its staff at its headquarters in Ipswich, Suffolk, to raise desperately-needed funds.

Holland America Line and Seabourn made a $25,000 donation to disaster relief efforts in the affected area of the Philippines.

P&O Cruises said in a statement on Facebook: “We are working now to assess the impact on our employees who live in the region and we will do everything we can to support them during this difficult time.

“We’d like to thank all of you for taking the time to express your concern and best wishes, we will ensure all of your kind words are passed onto our Filipino crew.”

Cunard went on the social network to say: “Our thoughts and prayers are with our Filipino crew and their families following the devastation that Typhoon Haiyan caused the Philippines over the weekend.

“We want to thank all of you who have taken the time to express your concern here on our Facebook page, and for sending your best wishes to our crew. We are supporting them through this difficult time and will ensure that these messages are passed on to them.”


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