Canadian officials assessing next steps in Philippines typhoon relief

OTTAWA – A Canadian government team in the Philippines is now scouring outlying regions and tiny islands near the city of Roxas to determine what more assistance — if any — can be provided.

The military has deployed three CH-146 Griffon helicopters, which have given the roughly 300 members of the Disaster Assistance Response Team the ability to travel beyond the crippled city on the island of Panay.

Neil Reeder, Canada’s ambassador-designate to the Philippines, says they are co-ordinating with U.S. and British officials on the next steps in the typhoon Haiyan relief mission .

Speaking by telephone from the devastated region, Reeder says he is impressed with the determination of the Filipino people to resume their normal lives.

Col. Steve Kelsey, of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, says the military team is working to fill the gap until the local government is back up and international agencies can provide long-term relief.

He says the assessment of the outlying regions by the commander on the ground, Lt.-Col. Walter Taylor, will determine whether Canada needs to deploy more resources.

“It changes daily, (but) right now, we have a plateau in terms of personnel; around 300,” said Kelsey. “That’s the capacity, which he can call on. What is unknown is the situation in the towns and cities around Roxas.”

Two water purification units, each of which can produce up to 50,000 litres of drinking water each day, are in operation. Another unit is on the way.

Canadian combat engineers have cleared 109 kilometres of road, helping provide passage for humanitarian aid, said Kelsey.