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SA rescue team assisting typhoon-hit town

19 November 2013, 17:44Lauren Hess, News24

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.

Shortage of 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 region.

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.

- News24


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