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Filipino expats send aid to typhoon victims.

The Bayanihan Council -- the umbrella of 55 Filipino organisations in the emirate -- has sent its first relief fund of Dh10,000 to the victims of super typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda).

Bayanihan Council chairman Ernesto Refugio said the donation was sent to the Philippine Red Cross.

He also sent letters to Filipino organisations' presidents on Saturday, urging them to collect cash contributions. Collection deadline has been set at November 16 to be dispatched the following day.

In the aftermath of the super typhoon Haiyan, which has an estimated 10,000 casualties in Tacloban City alone and rendered millions homeless, water and food are the immediate requirements.

"Cash donation is preferable as we can send them immediately so the victims and refugees will have something to eat and drink," said Refugio."I appeal to everyone to share their blessings with the victims of typhoon Yolanda. We are happy to accept them and send them through the Philippine Red Cross," he added. Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador Grace Relucio-Princesa has expressed her sadness at the calamity.

"We are sad with what happened and we thank the people who gave their support for our compatriots affected by the typhoon back home," Relucio-Princesa said. She urged her compatriots to join hands in this trying situation and co-ordinate with the council and the embassy for relief efforts.

"There will be other fund-raising efforts in the coming days," she said, adding that she will meet with the Bayanihan Council to discuss how best to go forward.

'Still no news'

The category 5 typhoon first ravaged Eastern Samar early on Friday morning. With wind speeds of around 275 kmph, it washed out homes in the coastal areas and cut all power and communication lines, making it impossible for Filipinos here to contact their loved ones.

"We still don't have news from my mother and sister. Our last communication with them was midnight on Friday, about 4am there and even at that time, we could hear the strong wind in the background," said Melinda, who hails from Hernani in Eastern Samar, which is three hours away from Tacloban city.

She said that prior to the storm, the town mayor went around town urging people to move to higher grounds. "Our house is five minutes away from the coast. I told my mother to only pack her valuables and important documents. I'm sure they are safe." "I think about 95 per cent of the entire town is washed out, especially in the coastal areas. The airport is totally wreaked... it looked like a ghost town," she said, adding that she and her siblings here are tracking news from their hometown.

Her brother-in-law also has had no news of his family and was becoming "frantic", she said. Some of the students studying in Manila have driven down to affected areas and are relaying first-hand news via satellite phones.

Arvin Solayaw, an engineer here, said he got through to his brother in Caldiga, 40kms away from Tacloban, on Saturday, who said his father and relatives are all safe. "I haven't slept since yesterday waiting for the news.

They were not evacuated but the house doesn't have a ceiling anymore. There was no casualty in our hometown, even though we're near the coast and the river."

Scarcity of food and water

The main problem now is lack of food and water in the affected areas, with towns primarily relying on relief aid.

"Food and water are important now and I don't know how my family is managing at this time. People are already resorting to looting in order to survive. There are also villages further inside the town and along the coast that needs help but no aid is coming yet," said Arvin. Those wishing to contribute to the Bayanihan Council can contact Refugio at 050-6169870 or Arnel Laigo, Council treasurer at 050-5463917.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Nov 11, 2013
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