Church aid agencies are battling to reach the hundreds of thousands of victims of the devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines on Friday, amid warnings that people are dying because they lack food and water, reports The Tablet.
More than 10,000 people were killed when Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall, devastated six central Philippine islands, causing tidal surges that completely destroyed a number of cities including Tacloban in Leyte province.
Catholic aid agency Caritas Internationalis has warned that some 9.5 million people urgently need aid and 600,000 have been made homeless in the disaster. Caritas said that much of the country's infrastructure has been destroyed, making delivering aid to remote areas difficult.
Fr Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary of Caritas Philippines-NASSA, said that the destruction was catastrophic and beyond all expectations. 'The casualties are increasing day by day. There are dead bodies everywhere. People are traumatised. The most urgent needs are for food and water,' he said.
A Caritas aid worker, Rey Barnido, has arrived in Tacloban from Bohol to help with the emergency efforts alongside other Caritas aid workers in Tacloban.
He said via a text message: 'Patients are overflowing from the regional hospital in Tacloban. There are dead people everywhere. There is no water or power. Volunteers are trying to manage the disaster. It looks as if nuclear bombs were dropped.'
Chris Bain, the director of Cafod, the charity of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said: 'We cannot waste time on despair or shock - not when there are still lives to be saved, and communities in such desperate need of help.'
Guiuan, a town with a population of 40, 000 in the province of Eastern Samar, was largely destroyed while the town of Baco, in Oriental Mindoro, was left 80 per cent underwater, according to the UN.
Cafod has launched an appeal for donations. Matthew Carter, head of Cafod's Humanitarian Department, said that their priority was supporting local agencies in place on the ground.