Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir pledges support for Typhoon Haiyan victims
Anna Ligan has had no news of many of her relatives who had been attending a family wedding when Typhoon Haiyan struck her native Philippines.
The 38-year-old was among those comforted by the Lord Mayor of Belfast yesterday, along with other members of Northern Ireland's Filipino community who are anxiously waiting for news.
Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir hosted around 20 members of the local Filipino community at Belfast City Hall as he opened a book of condolence for the estimated 2,200 people that it is known so far have lost their lives in Typhoon Haiyan.
Ms Ligan's family were attending a wedding in Palo, Leyte, when the massive storm struck.
She said due to the devastation it is very hard to communicate with that area of the Philippines, adding the lack of news is agony.
The Lord Mayor revealed that this morning he will host talks between local Filipinos and Government agencies to find a way to provide relief to their disaster-struck homeland.
Mr O Muilleoir stood alongside deputy Lord Mayor Christopher Stalford, High Sheriff Brian Kingston and representatives of the other parties in a display of solidarity with the Philippines.
He said the many people who have come from the Philippines to live and work here were "part of the Belfast family". Ms Ligan, who has been living in Belfast for 11 years, said the lack of news either way was agony.
"My mum is from Palo, Leyte, and although we moved to Davao, we have many relatives still there," she said. "Many others had also travelled to Palo in the last two weeks for a family wedding and that makes it harder because we know they would not have been there otherwise."
Redemptorist priest Fr Eddie Creamer, who has worked in the Philippines, also attended the event and told of how a church in Tacloban City is currently sheltering 2,000 people who have lost their homes. Fr Creamer is taking names of missing people from local Filipinos to try and find out news of them.
Money will be collected during the Novena Mass at Clonard Monastery this evening to be sent to the Redemptorist church to help it aid the local population.
Speaking after the event, the Lord Mayor revealed that as well as the book of condolence, he wants to provide more support.
This morning he will host a meeting to co-ordinate how Belfast can help the Philippines.
He has also made a personal donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee Philippines Typhoon Appeal and urged others to donate via reputable charities.
- Typhoon Haiyan hit Leyte island in the Philippines last week, wreaking havoc.
- An estimated 11 million people have been affected.
- The official death toll stands at more than 2,300, but could rise.
- US military planes are delivering World Food Programme supplies and a French-Belgian field hospital has been set up.