Tears in Oamaru for Philippines

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“I cried when I heard the news because this is the third (disaster) in a row,” the chairperson of the Waitaki Multicultural Council Cecile Baxter said when she heard of the devastating typhoon Haiyan that has struck the Philippines.

“My niece has been sending messages from her mobile and has told me my father’s home has been totally destroyed; according to my niece, he’s a bit shaky, but they’re all right.

“They’re homeless and lost everything.”

Ms Baxter’s family lived in a small town, Iloilo, in the central Philippines. Last month, her sister’s house was destroyed in a 7.2 magnitude earthquake and shortly before that, there had been a major flood.

Having been away in Christchurch for several days, Ms Baxter said she had not heard whether other Philippine families living in North Otago had been caught up in the typhoon horror.

“I pray for my country although I have been in New Zealand over 23 years.”

It is believed 10,000 people have been killed in the Leyte island city of Tacloban alone by ferocious Typhoon Haiyan and officials have projected the death toll could climb even higher when emergency crews reach parts of the archipelago cut off by flooding and landslides.

Haiyan hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on Friday and thundered across its central islands, with winds of 235 kmh that gusted to 275 kmh, and a storm surge of 6m.

Haiyan inflicted serious damage to at least six of the archipelago’s more than 7000 islands, with Leyte, neighbouring Samar Island, and the northern part of Cebu appearing to bear the brunt of the storm. About 4 million people were affected by the storm, the national disaster agency said.

On Samar, 300 people were confirmed dead in one town and another 2000 were missing, with some towns yet to be reached by rescuers. Reports from other affected islands indicated dozens, perhaps hundreds more deaths.

 

By CHRIS TOBIN