Hundreds Die In Philippines Typhoon As Christians Struggle For Water, Food
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Hundreds of people were confirmed dead Tuesday as rescue operations continued to find survivors after the Philippines’ deadliest typhoon this year.
Authorities said at least 375 people died when Super Typhoon Rai, known locally as Odette, hit the country’s south-eastern islands with winds of about 195 kilometers per hour (120 miles per hour).
Devoted Christians helping people overcome the latest tragedy told Worthy News they “trust the Lord” amid food and water shortages in devastated regions.
Footage sent to Worthy News showed long lines of people trying to buy clean drinking water in bottles. “Prices of water and food items have risen 100 percent. Many people cannot effort this for a long time,” said Merry-Joy Osman, a Christian aid worker and mother of one in Mandaue City on the central-eastern coastal region of Cebu.
She told Worthy News that she was “trusting the Lord” as she watched the typhoon wracking her roof and impacting her neighborhood. “We have no electricity. I have to save my mobile phone battery from staying in touch with family far away from here.”
Some 400,000 people were forced to flee their homes across the devastated regions, and hundreds were injured, with many trying to reach overwhelmed hospitals.
Amid a lack of electricity and doctors struggling to help patients, a couple still managed to see their newborn baby in a poorly lit room in the typhoon-hit region.
It was joy amid the misery. A woman wiped away her tears as she watched her restaurant turn into ruins. Rescue teams described scenes of “complete carnage.”
“Many areas have no power, no communications, very little water,” said the chair of the Philippines Red Cross, Richard Gordon. He stressed that “some areas look like they were bombed worse than World War Two.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an emergency appeal seeking 20 million Swiss francs ($22 million) to fund long-term relief efforts.
One of the hardest-hit areas was Bohol province in the Central Visayas region, where about 75 percent were being damaged, authorities said.
Emely Laga, who updated Worthy News from Bohol’s Baclayon municipality about her family’s ordeal, managed to reach a doctor Monday. She needed urgent treatment for her feet punctured with falling wood when the typhoon struck.
THANKFUL FOR LIFE
Amid a wasteland of destroyed homes, she said she and her family “are thankful to the Lord to be alive. But life is so hard.”
Her impoverished neighborhood, like many areas in the Philippines, also deals with the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As the death toll rose, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte conducted an aerial inspection of the areas ravaged by the storm. Videos posted on social media by his aides also showed extensive damage to Siargao, Dinagat, and Mindanao islands.
However, residents complained to Worthy News that politicians “visit the areas just because of upcoming elections.”
In reality, many receive little or no aid from the government, with hospitals often charging high fees for treatments in a nation where many earn roughly $250 a month, residents added.
Yet authorities said thousands of military, coast guard, and fire personnel were deployed in the country’s worst-affected areas to assist with search and rescue efforts. Military aircraft and naval vessels were reportedly bringing aid to at least some of the worst-hit areas; many residents struggled to survive.
Rai was the 15th storm to hit the Philippines this year. It decreased in intensity, moved towards the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea, and was getting closer to Hainan, China.
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