World condoles with typhoon victims

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Expressions of sympathies and condolences from various governments around the world poured in as the Philippines staggers from the heart-rending devastation to life and property caused by Typhoon Yolanda.

Government representatives from the United States, Australia, Israel, China, United Kingdom, European Union, and the World Bank Group sent their “sincere condolences over the tragic loss of life and damage,” and offered necessary assistance for the victims.

US Embassy in Manila charge d’affaires Brian Goldbeck announced the immediate availability of $100,000 to provide health, water, and sanitation support.

“As a friend and steadfast ally, the US will always be there for the Philippines in times like this,” Goldbeck said in a statement.


US Secretary of State John Kerry also sent his “deepest condolences and solidarity” with the Philippines “as you wrestle with the devastation and loss of life that accompanied Super Typhoon Haiyan.”

“Having so recently had my own visit to the Philippines prevented by another powerful storm, I know that these horrific acts of nature are a burden that you have wrestled with and courageously surmounted before,” he added.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop also announced that her government will provide P15.5 million worth of emergency relief supplies to assist communities devastated by the typhoon. The kits will include sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, and water containers, and will be distributed through the Philippine Red Cross.

On the other hand, the United Nations will send health kits and conduct “a rapid needs assessment in the worst affected areas.”

The Chinese Embassy in Manila also sent its sympathies to those who have suffered “immense losses of lives and properties.”

“We sincerely hope for speedy recovery in the affected areas and the disaster victims will be able to overcome this challenge and rebuild their homes soon,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Justine Greening, UK’s Secretary for Overseas Development, announced a humanitarian aid of £6 million (P414 million) in addition to the £4 million (P276 million) it earlier released for emergency response.

The aid includes temporary shelter and access to clean water, household items from UK’s warehouse in Dubai, and the deployment of four humanitarian experts to coordinate international response.

Hugo Swire, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State, said that a team from the Department for International Development (DFID) has arrived in the country. He added that the British Embassy in Manila is offering consular advice to British nationals whose friends and relatives may have been affected by storm damage and communication difficulties.

The embassies also lauded the “strong Filipino spirit.”

Israel Ambassador to Manila Menashe Bar-on commended the Philippine government and its people “for their brave efforts in dealing with such a force of nature”

“The people of the Philippines are in the prayers of the people of Israel in these trying times,” he added.

“I admire the resilience and courage that Filipinos demonstrate under extreme pressure,” Australian Ambassador to Manila Bill Tweddell said.

Network giant Smart Communications, Inc. started the restoration work of facilities affected by the typhoon and expects to restore cellular service in typhoon-hit areas in two or three days.

“About 15% of our cellular coverage in the three regions of Central Philippines was affected by the super typhoon, most of these in Eastern Samar and Leyte, which bore the brunt of the storm’s fury,” said Rolando Peña, head of technology services for PLDT and Smart.

He said that the company will dispatch generator sets and set up free call and battery-charging stations in Mindoro, Iloilo, Camotes Islands, Bohol and Leyte while power is still out.

The Aboitiz Foundation, the social development arm of the Aboitiz Group, set up a command center in Cebu to help in the assessment of damage in the Visayas and extend assistance to victims of the calamity.

Initially, the foundation will extend assistance to 6,500 families in Northern Cebu and give out basic essentials such as water, rice, canned goods, noodles, biscuits and hygiene kits. A separate team is going to Leyte to conduct a separate assessment of the most urgent needs in that area.

“We are confident that with everyone’s support, Visayas can rise above this as it did in the past,” said Aboitiz Foundation Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Sonny Carpio.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) estimated that the typhoon destroyed P138 billion worth of crops.

DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said the estimate was based on initial reports coming from various provinces.

Reports from the Bicol region and Mimaropa showed that rice, corn and high value crops were destroyed. Alcala said they are waiting for the reports from other regions.

“These people were also affected by the super typhoon, so we are yet to have receive reports from them,” he explained.

Based on initial reports, damage to the rice sector reached P124.12 million. Alcala said 4,981 hectares were affected, but the crop planted on 3,990 hectares may still be saved.

Meanwhile, some 605 metric tons of corn were lost, while high value crops worth P9.2 million were destroyed.

With a report from James Konstantin Galvez

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