A SUPER typhoon which hit the Philippines almost two weeks ago left thousands hungry and homeless over Christmas.
Typhoon Rai was the strongest storm of 15 to hit the archipelago this year, killing nearly 400 people and injuring thousands more on 16 December. It was classed as a Category 5 super-typhoon, with winds of up to 160 miles per hour. More than half a million people were left homeless over Christmas as homes and livelihoods were destroyed.
Thousands of people are still housed in temporary shelters without running water or sanitation. The Philippine Red Cross described the devastation caused by the typhoon as “complete carnage”.
The Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines declared Christmas Day and 26 December national days of mourning for victims of the typhoon. They urged congregations meeting on Christmas Day to donate to an appeal for the survivors.
The Vatican envoy to the Philippines, Archbishop Charles Brown, spent Christmas with survivors in one of the worst-affected areas, Siargao Island. He celebrated mass in a typhoon-damaged church.
He asked the faithful “not to miss the opportunity to welcome and to show hospitality to those who need it most. Let us do everything in our power to offer them hospitality in various ways by assisting them.”
The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, said that the government would raise money for the rehabilitation and recovery of typhoon-ravaged areas. The United Nations has also promised more than $100 million in aid.
The Philippines are ranked among the most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change, experiencing about 20 storms a year. Typhoon Rai was unusual not only in its strength but in its timing: most typhoons are usually experienced between June and September.