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Helston ex-search and rescue pilot trapped by Philippine mega-storm
6:00am Thursday 14th November 2013 in News
A former Helston search and rescue pilot has told of how he was trapped on an island in the Philippines during one of the strongest storms ever recorded.
Paul Crudgington, from Traboe on the Lizard Peninsula, was on his first deployment as a response team member with ShelterBox, having only completed his training at the start of September.
He had travelled to the island of Bohol last month in the wake of an earthquake that hit 7.2 on the Richter scale and destroyed 35,000 homes.
Just two days before he was due to return home, however, Typhoon Haiyan hit, forcing 500,000 people from their homes and leaving 10,000 dead in its path.
Fortunately Paul and his fellow team member Mark Dyer, from the US, were on the opposite side of the islands to where the full brunt of the typhoon hit – although still only 100 miles away.
Although experiencing winds of 100km an hour and extremely heavy rain, with localised flooding, they were spared the devastation that affected other islands.
Despite this the pair had put together an evacuation plan, which would have taken them further inland from their potentially precarious position near the coast.
“People were very focussed. We weren’t worried but it certainly concentrated the mind," he said.
Paul the ShelterBox tents put up following the earthquake stood up to the 100km gales with no problems.
“In hindsight, if we’d really been aware of how dangerous the storm surge might be – and hindsight is a wonderful thing – we would probably have left a couple of days earlier. But we were busy trying to provide shelter still and you don’t really think of yourselves.
“When we saw the damage we thought ‘Maybe we should have run away!”
Paul and Mark arrived back in the UK on Monday, as planned, and two more teams have gone out to replace them.
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