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Food, water, medical supplies and temporary shelter are in urgent need. Credit: Andreas Zinggl/Caritas Austria

Food, water, medical supplies and temporary shelter are in urgent need. Credits: Andreas Zinggl/Caritas Austria

People in the Philippines are in desperate need according to Caritas Austria staff in Cebu, one of the areas Typhoon Haiyan struck. The scale of the disaster has left everyone stunned.

Caritas aid has been getting through. Caritas Philippines has been able to reach survivors since Sunday working through its diocesan staff. Caritas Philippines is focusing its activities in Palo, Jaro, Capiz and Cebu.

Ten trucks with food will go to Ormoc in Leyte, nearly 50 relief packs with clothes and medicines were delivered to a local hospital in Cebu and a truck with relief supplies was sent to Bogo City in the destroyed north.

Heavy rain on Tuesday is making life worse for survivors and more difficult for relief operations. Families are sleeping in the elements and need the basics just to get by. Over 670,000 have been forced from their homes. Based on population figures where the typhoon made direct hits, an estimated 500,000 homes could be destroyed.

Emergency shelter remains a top priority. 32,000 tarpaulins have been bought by Caritas member CRS and the first tarps and water and sanitation supplies have arrived in the country.

In Tacloban City, streets are flooded and there are growing health concerns that the bodies, rubbish and sewage will lead to the spread of disease. Hygiene and sanitation are critical to maintain in order to prevent waterborne diseases that often occur in crowded, polluted conditions.

The number of people affected has risen to 11.3 million, but the government says that the death toll might not be as high as expected. President Benigno Aquino expects the death toll to be around 2000-2500 people.

Assessing the damage, reaching those affected, transporting supplies, and helping rebuild a country and its people so that they are better prepared when the next crisis comes are all part of the challenge Caritas organisations are facing going forward in the Philippines.

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