VIDEO: Officials fear as many as 10,000 people may be dead in one Philippine city alone following typhoon Haiyan. Tom Windebank of the Canadian Red Cross talks about the relief efforts in the region and the challenges aid workers face in these conditions.
Canadians needing urgent consular help following Typhoon Haiyan can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call collect 613-996-8885.
Shaw Communications has opened Filipino channels TFC and FTV for viewing without subscription, and all long-distance calls to the Philippines will be offered to all customers at no additional cost until further notice.
TORONTO – Canada’s Filipino community is cobbling together resources to send to the Philippines as many people frantically try to contact friends and loved ones missing in what appears to be the country’s deadliest storm yet.
As prayers went out Sunday for survivors of typhoon Haiyan, plans were also being quickly drawn up to send over assistance to the hardest-hit areas.
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Rev. Ben Ebcas Jr. told rows of concerned congregants at his midtown Toronto church his fears about his two brothers who are missing on Leyte Island, which saw some of the worst of the storm.
“It’s sad and it’s difficult. I couldn’t sleep, but we have to pray for one another,” he said after mass, fighting back tears.]
Officials fear as many as 10,000 people may be dead in one Philippine city alone, and officials say the death toll could climb even higher when emergency crews reach areas cut off by flooding and landslides.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the government is considering activating the Disaster Assistance Response Team to help typhoon victims. The DART is largely a military team that can provide a variety of services such as emergency medical care and clean water. An advance team of officials has been sent to the Philippines to assess whether the DART should be deployed, Baird said Sunday.
As news of the damage continued to worsen, a number of Canadian churches drew together groups of people eager to help support victims of the typhoon in some way.
Watch: Parts of the Central Philippines are in ruins a day after one of the most powerful storms on record slammed into the island nation. Paul Johnson reports.
Ebcas, who witnessed the previous deadliest Philippine storm 22 years ago, urged his congregation to contribute whatever they could to a parish fundraising effort.
Minister of International Development Christian Paradis announced Sunday that Ottawa will match each dollar of typhoon aid donated by Canadians to registered charities. The government earlier said it would contribute as much as $5 million to support humanitarian organizations helping typhoon victims.
A massive relief operation is already underway, with some Canadian organizations sending teams to the Philippines.
A four-person rapid response Global Medic crew left Toronto for the Philippines on Sunday, taking with it water purification units and other supplies.
Spokesman Andrew Budziak said the team is going to the devastated central islands with little heads-up knowledge of the scene they’ll find on the ground.
“It’s so hard, even for people in the Philippines, to get an idea of what’s going on,” he said.
“We’re hearing reports of mass graves. But there are still areas in the country that nobody’s been able to reach.”
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Meanwhile, Jessie Thomson, the director of CARE Canada’s humanitarian assistance and emergency team said his organization plans to provide immediate essentials like shelter, water and food to communities that have lost everything.
Typhoon Haiyan raced across the eastern and central Philippines this weekend, inflicting serious damage to at least six of the archipelago’s more than 7,000 islands.