Hopeful families await news

By Sonya Bateson

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Maria Burns, secretary of the Tauranga Filipino Society.
Maria Burns, secretary of the Tauranga Filipino Society.

Filipinos living in Tauranga are still waiting to hear if friends and family survived the devastating Typhoon Haiyan.

The typhoon swept through the island country on Friday and some officials are estimating 10,000 or more people were killed. Tacloban, capital of the island province of Leyte, saw the worst damage.

The Tauranga Filipino Society has about 70 members and secretary Maria Burns said many were waiting to hear if their loved ones were okay.

"We haven't had much communication from the people there yet because lines of communication are still down.

"We've got members who haven't been in touch with their families yet.

"It's really sad, we really can't do much but wait for the reports unfortunately."

Mrs Burns said Filipinos were strong in character so most would cope well.

"Unfortunately this is a big one, I've heard reports it was three to five times bigger than Katrina.

"It's really sad but what can you do? We can only do some fundraising to help the people.

"Filipinos are used to calamity so it doesn't seem to affect us like it would others, fate is very important to us and we do seem to cope pretty well with that. We just pray."

Mrs Burns said the society held a special mass for the victims on Sunday.

The group would also have donation boxes to collect money for the Red Cross at Living in Harmony, a Tauranga Regional Multicultural Council cultural show held at the Historic Village community hall on November 27.

"All those little donations help," Mrs Burns said.

She added she was lucky as her relatives lived in the northern part of the Philippines, outside the area where Haiyan caused havoc.

Donations to NZ Red Cross exceeded $100,000 within the first 36 hours of its Typhoon Haiyan appeal launch and the organisation itself has also put in $100,000.

Red Cross acting secretary general Bruce McGregor said donating to the appeal was the best way people could help.

"Financial donations are still desperately needed so we can help the Philippines Red Cross get food, water, shelter and medical help to those caught up in this catastrophe."

For more information about the Living in Harmony evening, visit www.trmc.co.nz.

To donate to the Red Cross , visit www.redcross.org.nz, send donations to the Typhoon Haiyan Appeal, PO Box 12140, Thorndon, Wellington or make a direct credit into bank account number ASB 12-3192-0015998-00.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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