New arrival a moment of joy amid Haiyan tragedy

Rommel, above, clutching his newborn daughter. Little Queen Angel was born in the chaos following Typhoon Haiyan in which her grandfather was swept away.

Surviving a super typhoon is one thing, going into labour aboard a military plane during an emergency evacuation is quite another.

Little Queen Angel was born amid the chaos in the immediate days after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, a little joy among the tragedy and disaster.

Mother Angelina was one of hundreds of heavily pregnant women evacuated from the worst hit Pacific islands and flown to safety.

The 24-year-old mum-to-be was evacuated from Tacloban, Leyte, where the cyclone smashed up the streets and killed thousands.

Angelina and husband Rommel were flown to Cebu city on another island.

Their new home is a sports centre turned into a refugee camp, where 300 women, children and men now live.

Rommel explained what happened on the morning of the typhoon.

“My wife went to stay in her aunt’s. Her father and I remained in our house, looking after our shop too. But the waters washed us away. He and I got into a small water container, to float, as we both don’t swim. But I lost him in the current and survived by hanging onto a floating fridge. Someone held me up. I don’t know if it was my guardian angel or what. But my wife’s father still cannot be found.”

Despite losing their home and being unable to find her father after the waters subsided, Angelina went into labour after the family were evacuated while aboard one of the giant US army C-130 planes.

The young mother explained: “It’s much better here,” she says of the makeshift Cebu refugee camp, “than the unbearable smell of death in Tacloban. We want to go to Manila [the capital].”

Camp manager Joel Ganganera says local companies are paying for meals, blankets, medicine and phone facilities for evacuated families (many are trying to track down relatives, left behind in storm hit areas).

“There’s nothing there, no electricity. It’s like ground zero. There are health problems, dead bodies on streets and law is out of control,” summarises Mr Ganganera about the families who have fled their home cities and towns.

Across from the couple’s cardboard circled space in the Cebu centre lies another mother who survived the storm with her newborn.

Grisley Vaflor and her four month old were taken by army boat to Cebu.

An estimated 4 million Philippines — almost the population of Ireland — have been displaced by the Nov 8 typhoon.

Meanwhile, food chiefs in the Philippines have warned people in areas devastated by the typhoon against eating dead animals or products that have been sitting in the bacteria-filled floodwaters.

The warning was made by the country’s food and drug administration and the national meat inspection service Parts of cities currently have dead animals including pigs, dogs and chickens lying on the streets with city authorities keen to remove human corpses first.


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