Western Visayas: 500,000 remain in evacuation centers
ILOILO CITY—As national attention focused on the devastation in Tacloban City brought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” more than half a million persons remain in evacuation centers in Western Visayas, desperately needing food, water and shelter.
Officials of government agencies said they were rushing to send assistance, especially to isolated islands and villages by land, helicopters and boats, but they called for more help and volunteers for the packing of food packs and other relief assistance.
At least 664,109 evacuees have been counted as of Wednesday morning, the Department of Health’s regional director, Dr. Marlyn Convocar, said in a briefing at the regional incident command post at the Iloilo International Airport.
The number of fatalities in Western Visayas rose to 233—162 in Iloilo, 50 in Capiz, 11 in Aklan and 10 in Antique, according to reports of provincial disaster risk reduction and management offices.
At least 1,270 were injured and 15 missing. Convocar said most of the injuries were puncture wounds from nails and debris.
The Office of Civil Defense in the region reported that 2.026 million people were affected by the supertyphoon.
Health officials and personnel said there was a need to provide potable water and ensure proper sanitation in evacuation centers, especially because of the huge number of evacuees.
Convocar said most of the health cases involved upper respiratory diseases.
Ma. Evelyn Macapobre, regional head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, said the agency had already distributed 42,542 food packs since Friday.
The Iloilo provincial government has also been extending relief assistance, mostly to the 11 northern towns that were worst-hit by the typhoon. The lobby of the provincial capitol has been transformed into a relief packing and distribution center with the help of students, policemen and other volunteers.
Macapobre said much more was needed by the evacuees. She appealed for more volunteers to ensure continued packing and delivery of food packs. A pack consists of rice, sardines and noodles that may last three days for a family of five.
To serve the needs of the evacuees, 44,274 food packs have to be delivered daily if all of them are fully dependent on food assistance, Macapobre said.
While acknowledging the extent of destruction and death in Tacloban, officials appealed to news organizations to also report more about the situation in Western Visayas.
“We appeal to our media friends to also put Western Visayas on the map of disaster (assistance) need,” said Janet Mesa, regional director of the Philippine Information Agency.
Mesa noted that badly hit areas like northern Iloilo, northern Antique, Capiz and Aklan were hit “as badly as Tacloban.”
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