Search continues for missing Danes in the Philippines

With 90 percent of the buildings destroyed and no telephone or internet, contact is slow in coming

While most of the Danes on the list of those registered as living in the Philippines have been accounted for following the weekend’s super storm, Typhoon Haiyan, 16 have not checked in as of this morning.

“Our embassies in Manila and Kuala Lumpur are working flat out to make contact with those people that we have not been able to get ahold of overnight,” Charlotte Lykkegren, a spokesperson for consular services at the Foreign Ministry, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “We assume that we will hear more good news.”

Ministry officials said that they have heard from relatives of 22 other Danes not on the official registry who have still not checked in, but telephone and internet service is completely shut down in many areas in the wake of the storm, which may have killed as many as 10,000 people. There are no injuries or deaths reported among Danes thus far.

About 1,000 Danes live in the Philippines, and 200 of those live in the area ravaged by Haiyan.

“We are working to get in touch with every Dane,” Nicolai Ruge, Denmark’s ambassador to the Philippines, told DR Nyheder. Ruge said that even though not everyone had been heard from, there was as yet no reason for concern. “Some on the list may no longer live in the area and communication is very difficult."

Ruge said that before the storm hit, the embassy had sent text messages and emails to all Danes in the area warning them to stay away from the coast.

The clean up begins
As the cleanup begins, experts from Beredskabsstyrelsen, the national emergency management agency, have been dispatched to the Philippines as the Pacific island country struggles to cope after one of the most powerful storms in recorded history wreaked damage far worse than expected.

“We are sending six people to the Philippines to support the UN and get help to the right locations,” Tina Overby, the head of the emergency management agency, told DR Nyheder.

The Danish team includes communications specialists, an IT expert, a nurse and an electrician.

“The situation in the Philippines is very serious and the damage is extensive,” the defence minister, Nicolai Wammen (S), said in a statement. “It is therefore important that Denmark assist UN efforts in the Philippines.”

Danish relief efforts will include a mobile coordination centre and a residential camp for those whose homes were destroyed by the storm. Development minister Christian Friis Bach (R) has already promised ten million kroner in the form of food, water and tents to the Philippines.

Modern life destroyed
Haiyan's death toll could climb as high as 10,000 on the island of Leyte alone after storm surges as high as trees and wind gusts over 280 km/h destroyed entire towns and villages. By comparison, during last month's storm in Denmark, winds topped out at around 120 km/h.

The storm destroyed about 70 to 80 percent of structures in its path as it tore through Leyte on Friday.

An estimated 9.5 million people were affected and over 630,000 were forced from their homes. The raging seas flattened buildings and swept away hundreds of people.

Local officials have started to compile a list of the dead by names and regions – listing electrocution, drowning and falling debris as causes of death in most cases.

“The devastation is really horrific,” the Philippine's interior minister, Mar Roxas, said at a press conference in Tacloban, the hardest-hit city. “All systems, all vestiges of modern living, communications, power, water, all are down.”

Local Filipino group raises funds
A group of local Filipinos living in Copenhagen gathered in Skt Annes Kirke on Amager yesterday to raise funds for Haiyan's victims.

According to Chloe Inventor, the event co-ordinator, over 200 people turned up and an auction of hand-made art raised 31,600 kroner was raised to help the victims.