(Photo: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco)
International Christian relief agencies based out of the United States are sending assistance to central and eastern Philippines, which was devastated by one of the strongest typhoons on record, Haiyan, that may have killed more than 10,000 people and affected more than 25 million others.
The Evangelical Christian humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization, World Vision, has announced the launch of an emergency response to deliver food, hygiene kits, shelter, and other relief supplies to 1.2 million people in the Eastern and Central Visayas region.
"We will also work to protect children, who are the most vulnerable in the aftermath of a disaster like Typhoon Haiyan," says World Vision.
The death toll in the typhoon-ravaged Tacloban city in the central Philippines alone could reach 10,000 people, according to The Associated Press. The super typhoon made landfall Thursday evening.
Communication and power outages across the region are making it difficult to determine the full extent of the damage. "Still, it is estimated that as many as 25 million people are affected, with local reports describing houses damaged, large trees uprooted, and storm surges as high as 16 feet, says World Vision's Minnie Portales in Manila, Philippines.
Landslides and fallen trees are also obstructing relief workers from delivering food and other supplies.
"As we wait for early reports from some of the hardest-hit provinces, we fear for the worst. This could be very bad," Portales adds.
Springfield, Mo.-based Convoy of Hope has sent four shipping containers to the Philippines, and is preparing to send more.
"We are working with our contacts and partners on several islands," says Kary Kingsland, senior vice president of Global Initiatives for Convoy of Hope, in a statement. "That will help expedite the delivery of relief to survivors."
The first assessment team of Convoy of Hope is scheduled to leave for the Philippines on Sunday.
"Disastrous flooding contaminates water sources and creates a scarcity of the one thing most vital to survival-safe drinking water," says George Greene III, co-Founder and CEO of the Charleston, S.C.-based Water Missions International.
"Water Missions International is currently providing consultation to partnering organizations on how to help those devastated by this storm. If needed, we have 40 disaster response units ready to ship and our staff is on call to mobilize," adds Greene, of the nonprofit Christian engineering organization.
Food for the Hungry, a Phoenix-based Christian international relief organization, is also responding to the devastating typhoon. "It is encouraging to see that despite their current situation, people can still laugh and smile and be thankful for all the help they receive. Most of them felt safe and secured in the evacuation center," the group reports, quoting its staff on the ground.
Project participants of Little Rock, Ark.-based Heifer International working in Visayas and Mindanao in the Philippines were also affected by the typhoon. Herc Paradiang, Heifer's country director for the Philippines, said staff were working to establish communication lines to ascertain the storm's damage.
In last year's storm, nearly 400 families involved in Heifer projects lost all or part of their homes and many lost livestock.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said America stands ready to help.
"Having so recently had my own visit to the Philippines prevented by another powerful storm, I know that these horrific acts of nature are a burden that you have wrestled with and courageously surmounted before. Your spirit is strong," Kerry said in a statement.