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Family who lost 11 kin in Palo now safe in Cebu

/ 06:49 AM November 16, 2013

PALO, Leyte – There was no sign of government relief efforts in barangay Salvacion in this town, about 10 kilometers south of Tacloban City.

The Sacred Heart Seminary which sustained major damage, with the roof of all buildings in the complex blown off and surrounding trees stripped leafless by Yolanda’s rampaging winds in the early morning hours of November 8 serves as sanctuary to survivors left homeless by Yolanda.

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As the helicopter chartered to extract a family circled around the compound, people started to gather near the seminary compound, perhaps expecting relief had finally arrived.

The flight’s mission was to extract remaining members of a family that had lost 11 relatives. It was organized by a multinational firm in the Middle East where a relative works.

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Ten people were supposed to be evacuated, but the helicopter could only take in five – three women and two children.

Gianni, 5, the youngest survivor flown out, gave the pilot a thumbs up sign as the helicopter took off for Cebu. The helicopter will return today for the five other family members left behind.

Private aircraft charter companies have been swamped by private clients as well as by relief organizations from abroad wanting to reach the disaster sites.

Last Thursday, the family buried 11 of their relatives. Asked if their dead relatives were in the list of casualties put together by the government, they said they were not sure. “But we documented everything and took photos of each of them,” said Clara, 40, a medical doctor.

Asked how they survived the harrowing days after the typhoon struck, Karen, 34 said relatives from other towns brought them supplies as early as Saturday. But even this may not last long as the supply of gasoline is running out. Thus, the decision to mount the private rescue.

Most are not as lucky. Those who do not have the means have to remain in the ravaged province to face the bitter odds. And those who have the means or are lucky enough to get a chance to escape from the hunger and lawlessness have to postpone mourning the loss of loved ones. They leave behind shattered lives with the barest glimmer of hope that something better awaits them somewhere.

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