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Agonising wait for UAE's Filipinos after typhoon terror back home.

DEVASTATED Filipinos across the Emirates are still waiting to hear from families back home following a mega-storm that tore through the Philippines leaving death and destruction.

There were 138 confirmed deaths last night, but officials from the Philippine Red Cross estimate the death toll could rise to 1,000.

One Abu Dhabi-based expat, Marie de la Cruz, broke down in tears yesterday as she spoke of how she had been trying to reach relatives in the city of Tacloban, where eyewitnesses reported seeing more than 100 dead bodies lying in the streets after Typhoon Haiyan hit on Friday.

"I try the mobile, no signal, no internet. I am only praying that my family are still with me," she said."

De la Cruz said that she was briefly able to contact friends half an hour from Tacloban who described seeing bodies in the street. "They said it was like a war zone," she said.

Leny Labok, from Paranas, about one hour from Tacloban, said she was finally able to reach her sister at 5.30pm yesterday.

"The mobile phone networks are down, but I could reach her on facebook. She said that the family are all OK, thank God," said Labok, who works as a reception at Abu Dhabi's Park Rotana hotel.

Chene, another receptionist, said that 100,000 people had been evacuated from her city, Cebu, eight hours from Tacloban. "It was the same category of typhoon but there was very big evacuations before it hit, so we were lucky," she said.

Meanwhile, Nichola Jones, from the Red Cross in the Philippines, said the charity organisation was hearing reports of collapsed buildings, including a hotel.

She said some of her colleagues had been locked in their hotel in Cebu when the storm hit and were now trying to assses the damge.

Meanwhile, an official at the Philippines Embassy in Abu Dhabi said the embassy is accepting donations of clothes, money and non-perishable food to send to victims.

"People can come to the embassy and leave it there. We thank people for their help. Already people are coming to the embassy to offer what they can," he said.

The Philippines Civil Aviation Authority has said that at least 138 people are dead and the death toll is expected to rise in the coming days.

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Nov 10, 2013
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