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Saturday 20 September 2014

It's a miracle our family is alive – Filipinos here reveal tales of survival

Louise Hogan and Caroline Crawford

Published 12/11/2013 | 02:00

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Victor Matoud: family safe but the stress is 'never ending'

THERE were tales of miracle survival, desperate rescues and unbearable tragedy.

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Ireland's Filipino community watched in horror and despair as the fallout from the super typhoon that swept through their homeland was played out on television and in newspapers.

Irish aid agencies warned that the figure of 10,000 dead and 600,000 homeless might only be a fraction of the casualties from Typhoon Haiyan, as emergency teams descend on apocalyptic scenes.

Father-of-two Rodolfo Osias (38), along with his wife Maria Leilani Osias (42), told of their deep concern from their home in Navan, Co Meath.

They had waited anxiously to hear word from loved ones living in the heart of San Jose, in Cancabato Ville, which experienced "massive destruction".

Mr Osias became emotional as he told how he finally received a message from his family on the internet after two days of waiting.

It simply said: "The Osias family is intact, it is a big miracle, even we couldn't understand it. But we are still here."

Mr Osias described how his brother Romel (35) held on to his mother Baula (69) for three hours on the roof of their bungalow to save her from the flood.

"It is a miracle how my family is alive right now. They were able to keep themselves safe as they went up on to the roof of the house.

"My mom is crippled with one of her hips, she needs a wheelchair to move.

"She was tied up to an electric cable so that she would not be washed out and my youngest brother held on to her for three hours until the water subsided," said the worker at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan.

During the days before Mr Osias received any news from his family, he said he suffered extreme stress. His wife also faced a lengthy wait to hear her family was safe.

For Victor Matuod (50), a travel agency worker in Dublin, the nightmare first began when an earthquake struck near his family's home in the city of Tagbilaran, in the Manga District, in October.

Now they have been struck by two typhoons as well – but have not suffered flooding.

"I can't sleep because it is so stressful. It is never ending," he said.

Karl Perocillo, the president of the Filipino group at St Vincent's Hospital, said some of them had lost family members and others were still waiting for news.

At the Filipino Makati Avenue Restaurant, on Capel Street, Dublin, people were watching the television for the names of survivors. Owner Angela Norton urged people to come to the restaurant this Saturday where any money spent will go towards fundraising.

Aid charity Goal's Darren Hannify said an emergency response team would be targeting the devastated region around Tacloban on the island of Leyte.

SHELTER

Irish development agency Trocaire will distribute 8,000 tarpaulins to provide temporary shelter and is working with its partners to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.

Concern's chief executive Dominic McSorley said initial reports were "only the tip of the iceberg".

"Roads are blocked and the airport has been out of action, the information coming through is that it is estimated there are close to one million families affected in 36 provinces in nine regions," he said.

"The UN believes as many as 9.5 million people have been affected. We also know there are 1,223 evacuation centres that have already been established. This is a disaster on a scale of what we saw in the tsunami."

The Filipino consulate in Dublin has urged people to contact the Red Cross "trace a person service" for help contacting relatives.

Irish Independent

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