Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

British man 'among typhoon missing'

An RAF C-17 transport plane is heading to the Philippines
An RAF C-17 transport plane is heading to the Philippines

A British man is among those missing in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, according to reports.

Colin Bembridge, 61, was staying with his Filipino partner Maybelle, 35, and their three-year-old daughter Victoria near Tacloban when the devastating storm struck.

Channel 4 News said the pharmacist, who lives in Grimbsy, had been visiting his girlfriend's relatives and had hired a beach house in Baybay, one of the ravaged coastal villages.

Typhoon Haiyan has left thousands dead and many more homeless, and large numbers of survivors are struggling without food, water and shelter.

The mother of Mr Bembridge's partner, 79-year-old Lydia showed Channel 4 News the wreckage of the beach house where her daughter and granddaughter had been staying.

"I just want to know whether they are dead or whether they were blown by the winds," she told the programme.

While searching the wreckage she found a dress belonging to Maybelle - the youngest of her eight children - and a games consol belonging to Victoria.

She added: "Now that I am here I cannot see them. I am at a loss of where they are. My heart, it's hurting."

More than £30 million has been raised by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) in just three days.

The alliance of 14 UK aid charities said the funds raised will be used to deliver vital food, water and sanitation equipment, household items and building materials to rebuild essential infrastructure in the ruined areas.

Its chief executive Saleh Saeed said: "The DEC member agencies and their partners are working on the ground to deliver essential aid.

"But the needs are so great, with hundreds of thousands of people displaced. People desperately need the basics of food, water and shelter."

The typhoon a week ago devastated nine regions with the country's national Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Centre counting 2,357 killed and 3,853 injured. DEC said fuel in the provincial capital of Tacloban was expected to run out within days.

This morning an RAF cargo plane carrying heavy duty vehicles and medical supplies left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire as part of Britain's emergency response to the disaster.

The huge C-17 transport plane was carrying two JCB diggers, two Land Rovers and a forklift truck emblazoned with stickers reading "UK aid from the British people".

The aircraft, operated by No 99 Squadron, is due to land in the Philippines by tomorrow morning.

Speaking at Brize Norton, International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: "We have been one of the countries that has really been part of trying to get humanitarian aid through to the people on the ground.

"But what we know is we have to get the logistics operation up and running and that means clearing the roads.

"You cannot do that without the right equipment. We've got the right equipment and we're sending it over."

She added: "I think we'll be working with the Philippines over the coming months, possibly years."

A 12-strong team of British doctors, surgeons and paramedics landed in the capital, Manila, yesterday to help treat survivors of the typhoon, the Department for International Development (DfID) said.

Their arrival came as Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious was also being sent there.

The vessel, which was taking part in exercises in the Gulf, will arrive in the disaster zone to support the humanitarian operation by November 25, replacing HMS Daring, which has already been deployed to the Philippines.

The Philippines government has defended its efforts to deliver aid.

Interior secretary Mar Roxas said: "In a situation like this, nothing is fast enough."

Government officials have given different death tolls, both actual and estimated, as a result of the disaster.

A spokesman for the country's civil defence agency, Major Reynaldo Balido, said the figure had risen to 2,360.

But some officials estimate that the final toll, when the missing are declared dead and remote regions are reached, will be more than 10,000.

At least 600,000 people have been displaced, with many of them homeless.

Workers in Tacloban have been burying scores of unidentified bodies in a mass grave as desperately needed aid begins to arrive.

Save the Children said three lorries carrying household and family hygiene kits will set off in convoy from Manila to reach Tacloban and will benefit 5,000 people.

Additional fuel, which has been in very short supply in the area, will also arrive and enable further distributions to take place over the coming days.

The charity's humanitarian relief coordinator, Michel Rooijackers, said: "Typhoon Haiyan overturned millions of lives when it hit the Philippines last Friday, causing destruction on a record-breaking scale, and shattering people's homes and livelihoods.

"The conditions in which families are living in right now are extremely difficult, and these items will provide some basic but essential relief."

Further distributions are planned over the coming days in Tacloban and in other hard-hit areas.

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