x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Horror of not being able to contact family who lived in worst-hit area

Relatives of people hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines have spoken of their anxious wait to hear news from their loved ones, and of profound grief for the the loss of lives.

Jeanesol Amlos, 31, a senior document controller in Dubai, holds a photo of her family members back home in the Phillipines. Sarah Dea / The National
Jeanesol Amlos, 31, a senior document controller in Dubai, holds a photo of her family members back home in the Phillipines. Sarah Dea / The National

Jeanesol Amlos first felt alarmed when she did not hear from her cousin in Tacloban, Leyte, on Facebook after the typhoon.

“I’ve not seen him for five to 10 years since he moved to Leyte but we communicate regularly on Facebook,” she said. “I was really desperate to speak to him when I learnt about the typhoon.”

Ms Amlos, 31, a senior document controller in Dubai, said her family living in Benguet, north of Manila, were largely unaffected.

But her cousin, Luis Cuanso, 45, and his wife and children live in Tacloban – one of the worst-hit areas.

“My colleagues told me that it now resembles a cemetery,” she said.

Five or six of their relatives had planned to visit Tacloban to check on the family.

“We look up to him as our dear Kuya [elder brother],” Ms Amlos said. “For five days, I wanted to cry and felt so helpless. I could not do anything to help.”

Survivors had been unable to make contact using the region’s crippled communications and transportation systems.

But Ms Amlos finally heard from her cousin on Wednesday.

“I managed to reach him but he could barely hear me because of the poor signal,” she said. “I am very thankful they are all alive and well.”

Ms Amlos and her Filipino colleagues are gathering relief supplies to send to the Philippines.

“The destruction was unimaginable,” she said. “Let us just all do our bit to help.”

rruiz@thenational.ae