Philippine typhoon survivors commemorate 10th anniversary

By AFP   November 7, 2023 | 07:18 pm PT
Philippine typhoon survivors commemorate 10th anniversary
A survivor walks among the debris of houses destroyed by Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban in the eastern Philippine island of Leyte on November 11, 2013. Photo by AFP/Noel Celis
Survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan will hold prayers and light candles in the Philippines on Wednesday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the storm that left more than 7,000 people dead or missing.

Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, unleashed winds of up to 315 kilometers (195 miles) an hour and whipped up tsunami-like waves that devastated the central islands of the archipelago nation.

Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province, bore the brunt of the storm's fury and was almost totally destroyed by five-metre-high storm surges that crashed over mostly poor coastal communities.

Roselyn Salazar Torres said it was "harrowing" to recall November 8, 2013, when the onslaught of water swept away her family's shack, and left her and two small children struggling to stay afloat and avoid being struck by debris.

"I did not expect myself and my family to survive Yolanda," Torres, 36, told AFP, using the Philippines' name for the storm.

"I was tossed around by the waves together with my two children at the time. I really thought my entire family would be wiped out in that tragedy."

Torres and her husband, who was away working when Haiyan hit, now live with their four children in a 12-square-metre (129-square-foot) concrete house at one of several sprawling relocation sites built for survivors.

"As always we will be lighting candles tomorrow for our lost friends and relatives. Then we will prepare a small feast for ourselves," Torres told AFP on the eve of the anniversary.

"I'm very much thankful that we survived the super typhoon and remain alive 10 years later."

President Ferdinand Marcos will attend a mass and commemoration at Tacloban's seaside convention center, where many people had been sheltering when Haiyan smashed into the country.

Marcos will also attend a disaster preparedness conference in the city.

In the evening, Tacloban residents plan to place lit candles along the city's streets in a somber remembrance of the friends and family lost in the disaster.

About 6,300 people were killed and a decade later more than a thousand are still missing.

Emmanuel Corbilla, 63, is among the lucky ones who did not lose any family members in the storm.

But, as the head of his village, Corbilla is encouraging his constituents to attend a mass in honor of the neighbors who died and light candles for them.

"We light candles to demonstrate our love for the victims, and also as a gesture of thanks to God for giving us a second life," he said.

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