Palompon - South African volunteers were on Tuesday the first foreign
team to arrive in the Philippine town of Palompon to assist with relief efforts
following Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda).
About 70 000 people in the region have been affected with 90
to 95% of the homes damaged or destroyed by the superstorm.
The town’s mayor, Jose Oñate said the death toll from the
storm stands at eight but this could rise as some local villages have yet to be
reached by rescuers.
medicine and staff
Gift of the Givers doctors found medical staff at the local
hospital working in almost complete darkness. A nurse named Andrea, who appeared
to be the only one on duty, told News24 there was a serious shortage of
medicine and staff.
There was one full-time doctor on duty for the entire
Patients were forced to use beds in the hospital hallway as Typhoon
Haiyan left the building badly damaged.
One patient, an elderly man, had been brought in on 9
November, a day after the storm hit. Andrea said the man had been discharged
but since no one had come to claim him, they were forced to hold onto him.
The Gift of the Givers team will be spending the rest of the
week and part of next week in Palompon. It will supply medical goods, food and
water to the town.
The death toll is now officially at 3 982 but more than 1 600
people are still missing. More than 18 000 people have been injured.
A Philippines government official said on Tuesday that the cost
of rebuilding the areas devastated by the typhoon could reach $5.8bn, or R58bn.
- News24's Lauren Hess is in the Philippines with SA aid group
Gift of the Givers. Follow her for updates on the rescue mission.