Dozens of countries offered humanitarian aid to the Philippines as they sent messages of sympathy amid the destruction caused by typhoon “Odette”, which pummeled through the Visayas and Mindanao and left 375 dead a week before Christmas.
Based on the latest data of the Philippine National Police from the reports filed by police units in areas affected by “Odette”, the death toll already reached 375 as of December 20.
Odette, the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year, made its first landfall in the evening of December 16 in Siargao Island while a ninth landfall was recorded in Palawan on the night of December 17. By December 20, government relief agencies were scrambling to deliver water and food to the devastated islands.
Leading the governments that offered assistance was the US, which has provided a variety of supplies and capabilities to support disaster relief efforts in areas affected by Typhoon Odette.
US Embassy Charge d’Affaires ad interim Heather Variava said the US has provided 19 trucks to transport Department of Social Welfare and Development relief commodities across Caraga, Central Visayas and Western Visayas. Variava extended Washington’s “heartfelt sympathies” to those affected by typhoon Odette and its “sincerest condolences” to those who have lost their loved ones.
“The U.S. stands ready to assist our Filipino #FriendsPartnersAllies,” Variava said.
France has also committed to lend the Philippines the equivalent of PHP14 billion to support and build up disaster risk reduction efforts at the local level, the Department of Finance said.
Gustavo Gonzales, UN resident coordinator in the Philippines, said that the body is coordinating with the UN’s humanitarian country team, which is composed of relevant international and national non-government organizations, as well as the private sector.
“We’re closely monitoring #OdettePH typhoon and pre–positioning humanitarian support in close coordination with government,” Gonzales tweeted.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila also said it is “saddened to learn” of the devastation that the typhoon caused to families in Visayas and Mindanao.
“We stand in solidarity with all affected Filipino families in facing this challenge and are willing to offer assistance to help them tide over the difficulties in the spirit of Bayanihan,” the embassy added.
Ambassadors Koshikawa Kazuhiko of Japan and Anke Reiffenstuel of Germany also took to Twitter to sympathize with Filipinos.
“My heart and prayers go out to everyone in large parts of Visayas and Mindanao hit by Typhoon #OdettePH. My deepest respect to the brave first responders of the ongoing disaster relief and recovery operations in the area. I hope for everyone’s safety,” Kazuhiko said.
“From what we have seen so far, the typhoon brought massive destruction. Good to see the committed work and anticipatory approach of @UNPhilippines also in addressing this challenge, and proud that (Germany) actively supports the UN in these efforts,” Reiffenstuel posted.
Canada’s envoy Peter MacArthur and Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson also offered to help the country as it deals with the aftermath of the typhoon.
“Canada stands with those affected by Typhoon #OdettePH. We are in contact with our #Philippines partners and are ready to assist. Conveying our sympathies to those injured and who may have lost family members, homes and livelihoods,” MacArthur said.
Robinson also expressed his government’s “thoughts and condolences”.
“In partnership with the Philippine Red Cross we have released pre-positioned emergency supplies and are continuing to work with (the Philippines) on further options to help,” he wrote.
Nearly half a million people have been evacuated from typhoon-ravaged areas, while damage to public and private infrastructure has been pegged to reach billions.
Pope Francis also expressed his concern for Filipinos after the onslaught of Typhoon Odette. The Pope tweeted a message for those affected by the typhoon, adding the hashtag #PrayTogether: “I express my closeness to the population of the Philippines, struck by a strong typhoon that has caused many deaths and destroyed so many homes.”