Typhoon in Philippines displaces 120,000, 8 missing

A resident holds onto his umbrella in strong wind as others stand by their wooden boats along the coastal area of Legaspi city in Albay province, southeast of Manila, on October 25, 2020, ahead of tropical storm Molave's expected landfall. (AFP / Charism Sayat)
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Updated 26 October 2020

Typhoon in Philippines displaces 120,000, 8 missing

  • The fast-moving typhoon blew out of the country to the South China Sea on Monday afternoon

MANILA: A strong typhoon blew out of the Philippines on Monday after displacing more than 120,000 people, leaving several fishermen missing and causing at least six vessels to sink or run aground in storm-tossed waters, officials said.

Local authorities reported at least two dead from Typhoon Molave, including a villager who drowned, but the government’s main disaster-response agency said it would wait to include the deaths in its casualty count until after they are validated.

At least 13 people were initially reported missing, mostly fishermen, but five were later rescued separately off the eastern island province of Catanduanes, the Office of Civil Defense said.

The fast-moving typhoon blew out of the country to the South China Sea on Monday afternoon with sustained winds of 130 kilometers (81 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 160 kph (99 mph), forecasters said. It roared overnight across island provinces south of the capital, Manila, which was lashed by strong winds but escaped major damage.

More than 120,000 villagers fled to safety at the height of the typhoon’s onslaught, with more than 75,000 taking shelter in hundreds of evacuation centers. The rest took cover in relatives’ homes. Officials struggled to set people apart in emergency shelters due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Humerlito Dolor said despite widespread damage in his hard-hit province of Oriental Mindoro, no typhoon deaths were reported there. In one area alone, 200 families lost their fishing boats, Dolor said. Many villagers have started to leave emergency shelters to fix their battered homes, he said.

“Many of them lost their roofs, their walls and ceilings,” he told DZMM radio.

Dozens of villagers were injured by falling trees and other storm debris as the typhoon pounded entire provinces, officials said.

The coast guard said four ships ran aground and two other boats, including a yacht, sank in very choppy waters off Batangas province, south of Manila. Coast guard personnel rescued seven crew from the yacht but were still searching for one other.

More than 1,800 cargo truck drivers, workers and passengers were stranded in ports after the coast guard barred ships and ferry boats from venturing into rough seas. Some of the ports were later reopened as the weather cleared.

About 20 typhoons and storms annually batter the Philippines, and the Southeast Asian archipelago is seismically active, with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.


Pakistani baby born in Makkah reaches home, meets parents after yearlong wait

Updated 16 January 2021

Pakistani baby born in Makkah reaches home, meets parents after yearlong wait

  • Abdullah was born prematurely Jan. 9 last year to Pakistani Umrah pilgrims
  • Parents say medical treatment was paid for entirely by Saudi government

ISLAMABAD: A baby born prematurely to Pakistani Umrah pilgrims in Makkah last year was returned on Friday evening to his parents in Quetta, Pakistan — a full year after his birth and successful treatment in Saudi Arabia.

Bibi Hajra and her husband Ghulam Haider were forced to leave their baby behind after their Umrah visas expired following the birth of their son on Jan. 9 last year — a premature birth, with the baby weighing only 1 kg and suffering from severe medical complications at the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Makkah.

The baby, named Abdullah, was placed on a ventilator and stayed on in the hospital for a period of 46 days under the observation of doctors and consultants specialized in neonatal intensive care.

After this, the child was transferred to special care under the supervision of the Social Service Department.

“We had to return to Pakistan and leave our baby in the hospital as our visas expired, and then could not go back due to coronavirus,” a tearful Hajra told Arab News on Saturday from Pakistan’s southwestern Quetta city.

“Initially, I was very worried about my baby, but the hospital administration remained in touch with us. They used to show me Abdullah on video and also send us his pictures,” she said.

“We are thankful to the Saudi government, hospital authorities, doctors, nurses and Pakistani consulate in Jeddah for their cooperation,” she added.

On Thursday, the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Makkah handed Abdullah over to a delegation from the Pakistani Consulate after taking care of him for a full year.

Abdullah’s father, Haider, who is a dispenser at a small clinic in Quetta, also expressed his gratitude to the Saudi government and the Pakistani mission for their support.

“Our child remained under treatment for one year but we have not even been charged a single penny,” Haider told Arab News.

“All the expenses were taken care of by the Saudi government,” he said.

The return of Abdullah to Quetta, he continued, had been arranged by the Pakistani Consulate in Jeddah free of charge.

“The Pakistani Consulate was in contact with the hospital as well as with the parents of the child. They provided all the medical facilities and kept Abdullah in complete care. Now he is absolutely fine and one year old,” the community welfare attache of the Pakistani Consulate, Saqib Ali Khan, who received the boy from the hospital on Thursday, told Arab News.

“When the hospital administration assured us that the child is completely fine, we sent him back to Quetta through a delegation and he was received by the parents,” he said.

Khan thanked the Saudi government, the Saudi Ministry of Health and the medical team at the hospital for providing the child with special care, and for keeping in touch with the family in order to reassure them over the entire year of their separation.