10 November 2013

Devastation in Tacloban City, Philippines

It has become clear that Super Typhoon Haiyan ('Yolanda' in the Philippines) has caused enormous destruction and, very possibly, many deaths. Tacloban City, on the island of Leyte in the eastern Visayas, the group of large islands in the centre of the country, looks as if a bomb had been dropped on it. I have visited it a number of times.

Much of the damage was caused by a storm surge, which is similar to a tsunami. I heard an official of PAGASA, the national weather bureau, explain on television today that where the seas is shallow, as it is in Tacloban City,  such surges tend to be much higher than where the sea is deep and therefore much more destructive.

Part of downtown Tacloban City

There are now reports that more than 10,000 may have died as a result of the storm. Reuters quotes a senior police official on this.

At 1.47 in the video above you can see the damage done to Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport. Below is a photo of the main building.

Although the airport buildings, including the control tower, as far as I know, have been badly damaged the runway has now been cleared of debris and military aircraft carrying supplies and troops have been able to land. President Aquino also visited today.

Reports indicate that it may be months before normal electricity services can be resumed.

There has been some looting in Tacloban City but scenes on TV showed this to be an 'orderly' process, if one can describe it as such. And footage shows people queuing up in orderly fashion at the airport, hoping for relief goods and, in some cases, hoping to get out. However, police and soldiers have been brought in to bring about order. One can well imagine that if people don't get basics such as food, drinking water, shelter and medical care, that matters could get out of hand.

One striking characteristic of Filipinos is their resilience. I've seen this over and over again. People pick up the pieces and start again.

Pope Francis sent the following telegram through Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin to President Aquino:

Deeply saddened by the destruction and loss of life caused by the super typhoon, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this storm and its aftermath. He is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and of those who have lost their homes. In praying for all the people of the Philippines, the Holy Father likewise offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this storm. He invokes divine blessings of strength and consolation for the Nation.

Basilica of Sto Niño de Tacloban

The Patron of Tacloban City is the Sto Niño de Tacloban, the Holy Child of Tacloban. May God show his love in a special way to the many children who have been traumatised by their experience in those places in the Philippines that bore the brunt of the typhoon. And may Mary and her husband St Joseph obtain for parents and others in positions of authority the strength and generosity to do what needs to be done to bring about a life-giving normality.

May the faith of the people of Tacloban City and other affected areas, expressed in the hymn above to the Sto Niño de Tacloban asking his blessing and mercy, touch the Merciful Heart of our loving Saviour Jesus Christ.

Photos from Wikipedia.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Prayers for you and everyone in the Philippines, Father.