The death toll has doubled to more than 5,000 in typhoon-ridden Philippines as families continue to flee the worst hit areas and loved ones are reunited.
The Philippine’s national disaster agency yesterday said that the death toll from the Nov 8 storm had reached 5,209, but that could rise further as many are still missing.
Typhoon Haiyan has now become the deadliest natural disaster in the country’s history.
Irish aid agency Goal gave out food parcels to 2,500 people yesterday in Ormoc, Leyte, an island where wooden homes were levelled and the sugar cane and fishing industries have come to a halt.
The elderly, young, and the injured joined the early morning queues, clutching their food vouchers as the heavy rice bags were lifted from a truck into the local town hall at Ipil.
Each family received 10kgs of rice, 20 canned foods, and noodles. The aid drop was policed but passed off peacefully with grateful parents saying “thank you Ireland”.
Smiling with her food bag, mother of one Shiela Diponan, aged 25, said the supplies would last for weeks. “We’ve received no aid from the government.
“We just want our house restored to stop the rain getting in.”
Goal country director Su Hodgson said it would take several years to get parts of the Philippines back to normal.
Ipil counsellor Conrado Aranti, 63, said: “What we need now are repaired houses and materials to do that. We have to find a way to restore the houses with all the materials left.
“The distribution from government is very slow. And sicknesses are growing such as chest infections, fevers, and hypertensions.
“Plants and businesses are closed too as there’s no electricity, though we’re being promised power by Dec 24.”
The UN estimates that up to 2.5m Filipinos now need life-saving food assistance following the typhoon. Irish Aid has so far donated €3m, but this could rise.
In some parts of Ormoc, families are living under collapsed corrugated roof sheets.
Despite the fact this city and its suburbs are 100km from where the epicentre of the storm was, it was heavily damaged.
Mother of two Donalyn Gonzaga, 27, said she and her children could not step outside their door during the storm as the local sugar cane factory was being torn apart over their yard.
“It was dark and the eye of the typhoon was just there, outside,” she said pointing to the entangled giant iron and concrete mess. “We stayed inside the house and prayed. I want to start my future, from the beginning again,” she said holding Mark Alexandre, one, and Rihanna, two, close by.
At Ormoc’s nearby port, many families are putting the tragedy behind them, and migrating to other parts of the Philippines.
Some are carrying suit-cases, others just a mobile phone. Each has a distinct and usually tragic story.
They are setting sail hoping the likes of typhoon Haiyan will never visit their shores again.
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