Filipinos in UAE desperate to reach family after Typhoon Rai strikes

More than 200 people have been killed, but the death toll is expected to rise

Filipinos in the UAE have spoken about their fears for family members after a deadly typhoon killed more than 200 people in their home country.

Typhoon Rai made landfall in the Philippines last week and was the strongest storm of the year. At least 375 people have died, 500 were injured and 56 were missing as of Monday, but these numbers are expected to rise.

The UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation expressed its condolences and sympathy to the Philippines government and victims’ families, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

Filipinos abroad are struggling to reach loved ones owing to communication problems and power cuts in several central towns and provinces.

Bryan Chu, 33, a cook in Dubai, has not yet managed to speak to his parents in southern Leyte, a province that was hit hard by the typhoon. A neighbour was able to confirm that his parents are safe, but their home was badly damaged.

I still haven’t been able to get in touch with my family directly. I’m very worried about them
Bryan Chu

“I still haven’t been able to get in touch with my family directly. I’m very worried about them," he told The National.

"It’s caused a lot of devastation.

“Someone there told me that my family is safe, but I won’t be able to rest until I speak to them myself and know they are OK.”

Emmanuel Grullo, 37, a chef in Abu Dhabi, has parents and a brother in southern Leyte. Their homes were destroyed and they are currently in a shelter.

“I have no contact with my family because their phone batteries are dead and there is no electricity there for them to recharge them,” he said.

“I wasn’t in touch with them for three days and now we don’t have communication again because there is no signal and electricity."

'Houses can be repaired, but lives cannot be brought back'

“My parents, brother and cousin have lost their homes. It’s really worrying and it would help if we could at least have some communication.”

Ven Villacarlos, 35, a nurse in Dubai, could not get in touch with her family after the typhoon hit but was informed by her sister yesterday that they are safe.

Her parents and sister live in Cebu, another province that was hit hard by Rai.

“My sister messaged me that they are all OK. My heart leaped with so much joy. I was told of the damage the typhoon did, but I didn’t care because I’ve never been so happy knowing they’re all safe and sound,” she said.

“Houses can be repaired, but lives that are lost cannot be brought back.”

Edgar Nofelda, 38, a restaurant manager in Dubai, said the events that are unfolding in the Philippines because of the typhoon are "really tragic".

"We are on the hillside, so we were not affected that much as the residents on the coastal side. But, we are really sad about the chaos it has caused," he said.

"So many of our neighbours lost their homes. An elderly couple we knew died because a palm tree fell on their house while they were inside. It’s really tragic and we’re praying for everyone."

Updated: December 20th 2021, 4:56 PM