10/16/2009, 00.00
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After 7 days, searches continue for the missing from typhoon Parma

by Santosh Digal
So far the death toll is at 375 and villages are reachable only by rescue helicopter. In the provinces of Pangasinan and Benguet, the Church distributes aid to more than 1,000 displaced families. Maoist rebels and the army have announced a temporary ceasefire to step up aid efforts.

Manila (AsiaNews) - Seven days since the passage of Typhoon Parma, rescuers are still digging through the rubble in the villages of the provinces of Pangasinan and Benguet (north of the Philippines), where 48 people are missing. Meanwhile, the bishop in person and groups of Catholic volunteers have distributed food to over 1000 families. "We are encouraging all students in Catholic schools to bring food and money for the people who are affected by the flooding - said Msgr. Hyacinth Jose, Bishop of Urdentata - many have offered to give their weekly pocket money”.

Typhoon Parma hit the interior provinces of the island of Luzon on the night between 7 and 8 October, causing landslides and flooding that swept away whole villages. So far the death toll stands at 375 and 185 injured. According to the National Disaster Coordinating Council about 3 million people were affected by the disaster while 83 thousand are still in refugee centres. In most areas the lack of internal roads and bridges slows down the rescue efforts and it remains difficult to reach the villages, which are accessible only by helicopter or on foot.

In most dioceses Catholic schools and parishes are now shelters for the homeless. Here clergy, students and the few families not hit by the floods distribute food and other daily necessities, often from their own homes. "It 'nice to see so many people willing to help their neighbours - says sr. Audrey Bejer, a Benedictine nun - in this particular situation there is no difference between rich and poor, everyone is trying to survive and escape”. The nun adds that "the Church is doing its best to extend its presence in the affected areas, especially to help and console the refugee population in shelters”.

Maoist rebels in the Cordillera People's Democratic Front and the military announced a seven-day ceasefire to allow the rebuilding of villages. The group's spokesman, Martin Montano, "calls on all activists and revolutionaries to get actively involved in searches, food distribution and the recovery of victims."

In total, in the typhoon Parma and storm Ketsana, the latter on 26 September, 760 have died and damage to infrastructure has amounted to 210 million Euros.



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See also
Typhoon in northern Philippines: Landslides and floods, hundreds feared dead
Thousands of Catholic students assist flood victims
Church aid for Manila flood victims
Church rushes aid to Manila flood victims
Growing unemployment in the Philippines, also due to corruption and waste


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