Generators to light streets of Philippine typhoon zone

Night falls early in the tropical Philippines, one of the biggest challenges in ensuring security on the worst-hit island of Leyte

Generators to light streets of Philippine typhoon zone

World Bulletin/News Desk

Philippine engineers have salvaged generators from a flooded IT park to bring light back to some streets of typhoon-devastated Leyte province, the Energy Ministry said on Monday, as the World Bank offered a $500 million loan for rebuilding.

Night falls early in the tropical Philippines, one of the biggest challenges in ensuring security on the worst-hit island of Leyte, where an estimated 70 to 80 percent of structures in the path of the Nov. 8 storm were reduced to matchwood and rubble.

Authorities estimate more than 3,900 people were killed when Typhoon Haiyan, one of the largest ever recorded, made landfall and the sea surged ashore. Dazed survivors desperate for food and water have looted shops and homes.

Philippine authorities, the U.S. military and international agencies face a mounting humanitarian crisis, with the number of people displaced by the catastrophe estimated at 4 million, up from 900,000 late last week.

Government engineers had at least patched up three diesel-powered generators from companies in an IT park in Palo, just south of worst-hit Tacloban city, to power street lights and the town hall, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla told Reuters.

"We will try to energize the first three to four kilometres of street lights and the municipal hall of Palo," Petilla said.

He said full power should be restored by Christmas.

"We are borrowing these generation sets to power street lights so that there will be signs of hope here. Because if there is no power, then residents feel there really is no hope."

The World Bank is to extend a $500 million emergency loan to support reconstruction of buildings that can withstand winds of 250 kph (150 mph) to 280 kph and resist severe flooding, it said in a statement.

Haiyan slammed central Philippine islands with 314 kph winds, causing tsunami-like storm surges that swallowed nearly the whole of Tacloban, once home to 220,000 people, in Leyte and Guiuan town in Eastern Samar.

Nearly 95 percent of the deaths from the typhoon came from Leyte and Eastern Samar.

"PEOPLE ARE ANXIOUS"

Ormoc, on the west of Leyte, was spared the storm surge. The city's streets have since become clogged with thousands of people from surrounding districts, who form queues that wrap around city blocks outside pharmacies, pawn shops, petrol stations and generator-powered ATMs.

"People are anxious," said Judith Daffon, 38, outside a bank. "We need money for food. Relief isn't frequent. It's only in Ormoc that stores are open."

At the port, hundreds huddled under the sun for a chance to get on a ferry leaving the island. In one queue, people lined up for the entire day to take a number, which then entitles them to join another queue for a ticket.

Further inland, in the district of Kananga, officials fretted over the cost of the rebuild. The typhoon wiped out "99.9 percent" of the region's economic output, Mayor Elmer Codilla said.

Crops of coconuts, rice, sugarcane and corn were flattened. The total cost to the district is estimated at 270 million pesos ($6.2 million).

Unlike many other areas, aid has flowed smoothly in the district, thanks to a decentralised distribution system. Sacks of food and bottles of water sit unguarded outside municipal offices.

"Even if you give thousands and thousands of relief goods, it's no good if you don't have the systems in place," Codilla said.

Eduardo del Rosario, head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said deliveries were becoming more regular.

"Let us be patient and we are asking everybody to help out," he told reporters. "Private donors who have capacity to give out in the areas itself, please do it to make sure everyone gets adequate relief goods."

Last Mod: 18 Kasım 2013, 10:18
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