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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 October 2018

Fearful Filipino expatriates unable to contact home after typhoon batters country

Typhoon Mangkhut has left a trail of deadly destruction in its wake 

Emergency services personnel make their way through floodwaters during a rescue operation in Macau. AFP
Emergency services personnel make their way through floodwaters during a rescue operation in Macau. AFP

Filipino expatriates have been left in limbo after being cut off from their families back home as Typhoon Mangkhut leaves behind a deadly trail of destruction in the country.

Dozens of people have lost their lives in the Philippines after the savage storm destroyed homes and caused massive flooding - with the death toll still on the rise.

Expats in the UAE have been hit by a communications blackout after the super typhoon tore through the infrastructure of the nation, leaving them with an anxious wait for news.

Zarina Dalati, a Filipino expatriate who works in Dubai, has family living in the north of the Philippines, which has been affected by the natural disaster.

“The lines are disconnected and I haven’t been able to reach my family," said Ms Dalati.

"My parents were in the north of Philippines but they are in Manila now. The typhoon was there and I can see pictures but not reach them on the phone.”

Ms Dalati has watched on in horror at the scenes of devastation unfolded on social media.

“I was talking to my colleagues and we only saw videos and pictures on Facebook.

"It looks really bad. You can see roofs flying and trees being unrooted.

"All my aunts, uncles and cousins live in the affected area,” she said.

Eduard Pascual, 26, who works as an office assistant in Dubai, says he has not been able to reach his parents in storm-ravaged Cagayan since the typhoon struck.

He says the area where his parents live is now without electricity - making it impossible for him to make contact with them.

“My parents are affected by the typhoon and I haven’t been able to contact anyone back home," said Mr Pascual.

"The typhoon made landfall there and I spoke with them last week before it hit. I haven’t been able to communicate with them through messages either.

“I don’t know if our home is okay and I don’t know what is happening in my town. There is no news."

Abigal Arce has finally been able to make contact with her family in the Philippines after initial efforts failed. Reem Mohammed/The National
Abigal Arce has finally been able to make contact with her family in the Philippines after initial efforts failed. Reem Mohammed/The National

Abigail Anne Arce, a 35-year-old human resources assistant at Bareen International Hospital in Abu Dhabi, has her mother and four children in Cagayan.

Thankfully, she has been able to contact her loved ones and offer vital reassurance to her 'scared' children after initial efforts to contact them failed.

The mother-of-four says she has unable to sleep for days and has been talking to her children through the night to comfort them during their plight.

“My four children and my mother are back home. My mother is 68-years-old and she is a cancer survivor. There was no electricity and she couldn't sleep," said Ms Arce.

"My children were scared because of the sound of the wind. I have been talking to them continuously. I keep calling them to ask how they are doing.

“I was very worried and couldn’t sleep. It was two in the morning and my children were scared so I would keep calling."

Abigail Arce watches a video sent by a friend of her family back home, who have been caught up in Typhoon Mangkhut. Reem Mohammed/The National
Abigail Arce watches a video sent by a friend of her family back home, who have been caught up in Typhoon Mangkhut. Reem Mohammed/The National

Ms Arce has a 15-year-old son and three daughters aged 13, 11 and nine, who all study in the Philippines.

“I was trying to reach them on Saturday morning but the network was unavailable. I could only reach them in the afternoon.

She said the typhoon did not cause significant damage to the family home, but others were not so fortunate.

"Some of the neighbours had the roofs of their houses blown away by the wind."

Ms Arce’s mother bought canned food ahead of the storm as a precautionary measure.

The entire area is still flooded but the water hasn’t entered their house.

“People are suffering from severe trauma after this typhoon,” she said.

She has been monitoring the events back home through rolling news coverage.

Khristin Salcedo, an expatriate working in a restaurant in Dubai, is grateful that her family in the northern Philippines are safe.

“They are okay but they were affected. Before the storm hit, I kept talking to them. They are in the affected area, but our home is safe,” she said.

Both Etihad and Emirates cancelled flights to and from Hong Kong on Sunday as Typhoon Mangkhut approaches China.

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Read more:

UAE airlines cancel Hong Kong flights as Typhoon Mangkhut approaches

Super Typhoon Mangkhut threatens Hong Kong after killing 25 in the Philippines

Twin tales of extreme weather are a stark warning

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