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December 13th, 2013
The Copernicus Emergency Management Service Activated to Assess Typhoon Haiyan Damage

The Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS), managed by the European Commission is an operational service providing rapid, on-demand mapping products for emergency situations related to natural and man-made disasters. Requests of activations of the Service are processed by the Emergency Response Coordination Centre of the EC’s DG ECHO (Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection) with the aim of providing emergency response actors and humanitarian relief organisations with the first damage assessment maps for the areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

In the first instance, flood maps using the latest radar technology were generated on the basis of the forecasted path of the typhoon. Radar technology allows the observation of the Earth’s surface, oceans and glaciers in all weather conditions, through cloud cover and throughout the day and night.

The result of the first rapid damage assessment of Tacloban city , which was based on the analysis of very high resolution optical imagery and released on Sunday, 9th November at 22:45 UTC, indicated that more than 700 residential buildings had been completely destroyed and more than 1200 were damaged by the typhoon. Tacloban is one of the hardest hit areas where entire neighbourhoods have been devastated.

This analysis offered a preliminary indication of the magnitude of the devastating impact on Tacloban city: five industrial facilities and seven educational buildings had been destroyed while eighteen roads were blocked; 70% of the built-up area was affected, of which 58% was either destroyed or badly damaged and 65% of the affected area was residential.

The activation of the Copernicus EMS has yielded accurate and timely geospatial information in the form of twelve maps over the Tacloban area that are freely available through the Copernicus Emergency Portal. These include six reference maps providing updated information on the territory and infrastructure, using data collected prior to the disaster; and six grading maps derived from satellite images which provide information on the extent, magnitude or grading of the damage directly caused by the cyclone (e.g. transport networks, industry and utilities). Following requests for further activations of the Copernicus EMS, some of which were forwarded from liaison officers deployed to Cebu City, additional areas were mapped throughout the week. These requests were coordinated with activities from other mapping mechanisms, such as the International Charter, UNOSAT and US government actions, in order to avoid duplication of efforts.

An additional thirteen maps of central Philippines were produced. Seven reference maps provided updated information on this area and another six delineation maps provided an assessment of the extent of the damage. The following sample shows the current flood delineation in the area of Roxas City (central Philippines). The damage assessment maps are expected to support emergency response campaigns and, in the longer term, reconstruction efforts.

The New York Times published an EMS map in an article entitled ‘Mapping the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan’ only three days after the disaster. It showed the damage caused by the disaster through a sample of maps covering the Tacloban area.

See http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/11/11/world/asia/typhoon-haiyan-… to read the full article.

For further information: