12/07/2004, 00.00
PHILIPPINES – VATICAN

Pope donates money to typhoon victims

The Pontiff's monetary gift is meant to bring some comfort to the victims and to be an 'incentive' to the international community to be generous.

Infanta (AsiaNews) – The latest tally of victims in the ten day deadly typhoon onslaught on the northern part of the Philippines stands at 568 dead and 607 missing.

Infanta, General Nakar and Real are three of the hardest hit areas. These cities can only be reached via helicopter because rough seas prevent ships from docking.

Pontifical Council Cor Unum told AsiaNews today that it sent US$ 25,000 to Caritas Internationalis in the name of the Pope as a token of his solidarity to affected Filipinos.

This follows the appeal the Pope made last Saturday when he sent a telegram of condolences to the typhoon victims.

"We are sending this money," the Cor Unum statement said, "along with our urgent appeal to Caritas Internationalis in favour of the 195,000 homeless families." This sum is meant to "be an 'incentive' for people and international agencies" to bring help to the victims.

These tragic consequences are not the only ones residents in the typhoon-devastated areas must face. Fr Francis Lukas, head of Radio Veritas in Infanta, one of the Philippines' oldest catholic radio stations, told AsiaNews that "dogs here are going wild; maybe even rabid. They bite any person they meet. People suspect [the cause is] lack of food or the shock [. . .] from the typhoons and mud waters".

Floods have even shut down Radio Veritas itself. "Every equipment, the transmitter, our computers are damaged," Father Lukas said. "Everything is covered with mud. There is nothing to save at the station."

The radio reached far-flung areas and for many was the only link with the outside world. It was also the local Vicariate's best tool of evangelisation. Retired Bishop Labayen, supporter of a 'Church of the Poor', hosted a popular Sunday radio program which, at one time, landed him in trouble with the military when the country was under martial rule. (SE)

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