Stampede kills 8 in Philippines relief tragedy

By November 14, 2013


Philippines (MNN) — Relief aid continues to trickle in to some of the most devastated areas of the Central Philippines. It's an area where 70% of all the buildings have been damaged or destroyed. The infrastructure is also decimated, which is preventing desperately-needed relief from getting to those who are most needy.

Unfortunately, few people are talking about rescue and recovery. It's grim for most. Mission Mobilizer with SEND International Canada Trent Rollings is in the Philippines. "Many of the NGOs in the area are calling out for body bags, or for people to donate for the purchase of body bags. There are a lot of bodies still in the streets."

Rollings continues, "We're seeing very little search and rescue, especially in the buildings that have been damaged or collapsed. For those who have been affected, people are really in survival mode trying to feed their families."

Relief is the biggest need right now, says Rollings. "A lot of islands have yet to see any relief goods. Relief goods have been pouring in."

While that's good news, Rollings says that's coupled with bad news. "The problem is: there is an extreme backlog of relief in Manila and Cebu, even in Tacloban, the hardest-hit area, because of the lack of capability to get to these remote areas."

That's leaving people desperate. "They have not been able to eat for five–going on six–days. Now the concern is starvation. The concern is lack of clean water, and especially medicine for those who are injured."

Eight people were crushed to death Tuesday after a crowd stormed a rice warehouse near the devastated city of Tacloban. One wall of the warehouse collapsed, killing them instantly.

While the region is unsafe because of disease and poor infrastructure, Rollings says there's another problem. "The prisons were also affected, so a lot of the prisoners went free and there have been a lot of reports of rampant crime."

SEND works with more than 30,000 churches in the Philippines. Have they been able to contact churches in the disaster zone? Rollings says, "We have not been able to make contact with very many churches, if any churches at all. We had a meeting today, and it sounded like as of right now, there has been zero contact."

SEND hopes to travel to the areas to assess the situation, but right now that's impossible. They are, however, collecting funds to help facilitate relief efforts in those areas.

Rollings says it's not just about helping people with physical aid. "We see tragedies like this as a real opportunity to minister to people, not only to the physical needs, but also the spiritual needs. So when we talk about meeting physical needs, that's never the end goal. The end goal is to share the Gospel."

Click here to support SEND International's work in the Philippines. All of the money donated will go directly to the relief effort in the Philippines.

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