x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Survivors in outlying areas must wait for aid teams to reach them

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.

Dubai resident Judith Alberca, 44, from Barugo, Leyte, Philippines, is concerned about her two brothers, three newphews and two nieces in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Charles Crowell for The National
Dubai resident Judith Alberca, 44, from Barugo, Leyte, Philippines, is concerned about her two brothers, three newphews and two nieces in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Charles Crowell for The National

Most reports of typhoon damage and aid efforts have focused on the city of Tacloban while the suffering of the town of Barugo, in Leyte province, has been overshadowed, a Dubai resident said.

The town, in northern Leyte, faces Carigara Bay, about 50 kilometres north-west of Tacloban.

Food, water and aid are trickling into Tacloban but humanitarian and medical teams have not been able to get into more remote communities.

“It is heartbreaking,” said Judith Alberca, 44, a housemaid and a family driver in Dubai whose own family comes from Barugo. “They survived the typhoon but lost their homes and loved ones. Now they could be starving to death.”

Super Typhoon Haiyan uprooted coconut trees, taking away an important part of many residents’ livelihoods.

“Like everyone else in the town, our family depends on these coconut trees for our everyday needs, for food on the table,” Ms Alberca said. “Everything is gone.”

She lost contact with her two brothers, aged 28 and 50, after the typhoon made landfall.

A cousin in Ormoc City, about 120km south of Tacloban, told her on Wednesday that they were alive and well. But the town has limited access to food, water and medicine.

“Relief goods have not reached them yet,” she said. “I am really concerned about the health of my nephews and nieces.”

The Philippine government on Tuesday assured the public that rescue and relief operations were under way. Relief goods would be distributed from Cebu.

“I hope they reach our town as fast as possible,” Ms Alberca said. “People are hungry, thirsty and tired.”

rruiz@thenational.ae