Asian nations offer condolences, aid to Philippines after typhoon, mall fire

Logs swept by flashfloods lie in a village in Salvador, Lanao del Norte in southern Philippines, Dec 24, 2017.

THE Japanese, Chinese and Malaysian governments have offered assistance to the Philippines in wake of Typhoon Tembin and the Davao City Mall fire, which have left hundreds dead and scores of others missing.

In offering his condolences to President Rodrigo Duterte, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed “heartfelt solidarity” to the Philippines in this “time of difficulties”, local media reported.

“Japan stands with the Philippines in overcoming this time of difficulties. Japan is ready to provide assistance needed by your country including provision of emergency relief goods to the maximum extent possible and sincerely pray that the affected areas will recover as quickly as possible,” Abe said in a statement, as quoted by the Philippine Star.

“I am deeply saddened and worried to learn the news that many precious lives were lost and serious damages were brought, including collapsed houses, forcing many people to evacuate, in your home region of Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines due to the recent typhoon,” he said.

Abe attends a news conference at LDP headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, on Oct 23, 2017. Source: Reuters/Toru Hanai

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi also extended his nation’s condolences to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

“I would like to hereby extend my heartfelt sympathy to Your Honorable (Cayetano) on the tragic disaster,” Wang said

“I am convinced that, under the leadership of the Philippine government, the people of the affected areas are bound to overcome the disaster and restore their normal livelihoods at an earliest date.”

SEE ALSO: Philippine storm: Scores missing, homeless as death toll climbs over 200

Malaysia’s Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein was quoted by the New Straits Times as saying the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) is ready to provide humanitarian aid to areas affected by the typhoon.

“The MAF Chief of Defence Force has been instructed to be on standby and to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the form of food distribution with his counterpart in the Philippines,” Hishammuddin said.

“I have made the call to Philippines Secretary of National Defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana to refer to the development of the typhoon and to share the sympathies and concerns of the ministry and the Malaysian people towards the victims of the disaster specifically in Tubod and Piagapo areas.”

Rescue workers were still struggling to reach some remote areas hit by floods and landslides that Tembin’s downpours brought, as the death toll climbed to more than 230.

The full extent of the devastation was only becoming clear as the most remote areas were being reached.

People attempt to rescue flood victims in Lanao Del Norte, Philippines, in this Dec 22, 2017 photo obtained from social media. Source: Reuters

Health worker Arturo Simbajon said nearly the entire coastal village of Anungan on the Zamboanga peninsula of Mindanao island had been wiped out by a barrage of broken logs, boulders and mud that swept down a river and out to sea.

“Only the mosque was left standing,” Simbajon said.

“People were watching the rising sea but did not expect the water to come from behind them.”

Head of regional disaster agency Manuel Luis Ochotorena said he expected the death toll to rise.

“Many areas in Zamboanga peninsula are still without power and communications, some towns are cut off due to collapsed bridges, floods and landslides,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Fire sweeps through Filipino mall ahead of Christmas, killing 37

Tens of thousands of people on Mindanao have been displaced by the storm, which struck late on Friday.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons a year and warnings are routinely issued.

But disaster officials said many villagers had ignored warnings this time to get out coastal areas and move away from riverbanks.

In 2013, super typhoon Haiyan killed nearly 8,000 people and left 200,000 families homeless in the central Philippines.

The country was hit by another disaster on the weekend when fire swept through a shopping mall in the city of Davao, killing at least 37 people, most of them workers at a call centre, city government officials said.

Davao vice-mayor Paolo Duterte said the chance of survival for any of the 37 people missing at the NCC Mall was “zero”.

The fire broke out on Saturday at a furniture shop on the mall’s third level and quickly engulfed an outsourcing business on the top floor, said a spokeswoman for the city government, Ma. Teresita Gaspan.

The cause was not known but an investigation was being launched as authorities searched for the bodies of the victims.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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