VATICAN City, 09 Nov 2013–Pope Francis on Saturday expressed his ‘deep sorrow for what is happening in the Philippines, where they could be hundreds of deaths caused by the devastating passage of super-typhoon Haiyan.’ Upon informed of the tragic situation that the country is experiencing, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people, assuring his prayers for the victims.
One of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall churned through the Philippine archipelago in a straight line from east to west and devastated central provinces, killing at least 100 people in a surge of flood water, officials said on Saturday, reported Reuter.
The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan is expected to rise sharply as rescue workers reach areas cut off by the fast-moving storm, whose circumference eclipsed the whole country and which late on Saturday was heading for Vietnam.
Roads in the coastal city of Tacloban in the central Leyte province, one of the worst-hit areas, were either under water or blocked by fallen trees and power lines and debris from homes blown away by Haiyan.
Bodies covered in plastic were lying on the streets. “The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami,” said Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, head of the U.N. Disaster Assessment Coordination Team sent to Tacloban.
“This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed and the streets are strewn with debris.”
The category 5 “super typhoon” weakened to a category 4 on Saturday, though forecasters said it could strengthen again over the South China Sea en route to Vietnam.
Authorities in 15 provinces in Vietnam have started to call back boats and prepare for possible landslides. Nearly 300,000 people were moved to safer areas in two provinces alone – Da Nang and Quang Nam – according to the government’s website.
The Philippines has yet to restore communications with officials in Tacloban, a city of about 220,000, but a government official estimated at least 100 were killed and more than 100 wounded.
The national disaster agency has yet to confirm the toll but broken power poles, trees, bent tin roofs and splintered houses littered the streets of the city about 580 km (360 miles) southeast of Manila. The airport was destroyed as raging seawaters swept through the city.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his closeness to the people of the Philippines and has assured them of his prayers as they suffer the effects of a category 5 “super-typhoon”, which struck the country early this morning.
The Pope also issued a tweet, calling for prayers. “I ask all of you to join me in prayer for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda especially those in the beloved islands of the Philippines,” he wrote.
Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated their homes. News reports estimate more than 100 dead, though the death toll is expected to rise. The storm churned across the archipelago country and was headed to Vietnam by Saturday evening.
Two years ago, a similar typhoon in the Philippines left 1,200 people dead.
Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/11/09/pope_expresses_closeness_to_typhoon_victims/en1-745172 of the Vatican Radio website