Manila (AsiaNews) - Nearly 1,000 dead, hundreds of bodies still buried in the mud, over 160 thousand displaced people who lack food and water: this is the grim toll reported by Fr. Edwin Gariguez to AsiaNews a few days after the passage of Typhoon Bopha the southern Philippines. "The situation is worse than estimated by the authorities - says the priest - In the areas most affected by the disaster bodies are still under the mud. The number of homes and buildings razed to the ground by the fury of water and wind is enormous and it is as yet impossible to give a precise estimate of damage". Fr. Edwin Gariguez is the head of Caritas International in the provinces of Davao, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro and Compostela Valley (Mindanao) hit on 4 December by Typhoon Bopha. To date, the official toll is 548 victims, 848 missing and 300 thousand displaced. However, yesterday the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) confirmed the discovery of 592 bodies in the provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.
"Unfortunately, many areas are still isolated - explains Fr. Edwin - and have not yet been reached by rescue teams." The priest fears that the death toll could rival that of Typhoon Washi, which in 2011 killed more than 1,500 people in the provinces of Cagayan de Oro and Illigan (Mindanao).
To date, the most affected areas are Davao, Surigao, Butuan, Matri, Compostela Valley. In these areas, Caritas helps tens of thousands displaced with the collaboration of parishes. "From day one - the clergyman - we are in contact with the local population to plan the management of aid. So far we have been able to raise 2.4 million dollars to buy essential goods to be allocated to the people affected by the floods." However, the situation is much more tragic than expected. The area where the typhoon made landfall is inhabited mainly by farmers and miners with many children. Often the daily ration of rice and water is not sufficient to feed the whole family. This situation is likely to worsen over time. Many of the survivors complain of government delays in rescue and disorganization in the distribution of aid. In the innermost parts of the provinces many people have walked tens of kilometers to pick up a package that is not even enough to meet the needs of a day.
Dozens of bodies still lie under the rubble and polluted waters. The fields are flooded or destroyed by winds that exceeded even the 200 kilometers per hour. This makes people completely dependent on humanitarian aid.
To alleviate the suffering of the flood victims, in view of Christmas Fr. Edwin launches an appeal to all Catholics Filipinos and foreign countries: "Please pray for and support these families who have lost everything in a few hours with a small donation." (S.C.)
Acting on Fr. Edwin Gariguez's request, here are the details for those who want to send their contributions to the flood victims:
To support ongoing interventions in the two emergencies, you can send offers to Italian Caritas via C / C POSTAL N. 347013 specifying the recipient: "Philippines Emergency " offers are also possible through other channels,§ UniCredit, via Taranto 49, Rome - Iban: IT 88 U 02 008 05 206 § Banca Prossima, via Aurelia 796, Roma - Iban: IT 06 A 03359 01600§000011063119 Intesa Sanpaolo, via Aurelia 396/A, Roma - Iban: IT 95 M 03069§100000012474 Banca Popolare Etica, via Parigi 17, Roma - Iban: IT 29 U§05098 100000005384 05018 03200 000000011113
To make an online donation from abroad go to: http://www.caritas.org/services/donate_now.html