SA rescue efforts in Philippines delayed
Gift of the Givers had to postpone travel due to logistical difficulties in the devastated nation.
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - South African NGO Gift of the Givers has had to delay its departure from Manila to some of the worst hit areas of the Philippines to Monday morning due to difficulties with travel arrangements.
However, tons of food, water, medicine and rescue equipment supplied by the NGO are now en route to the cities hardest hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Around 13 million people have been affected by the typhoon which killed more than 4,000 people and displaced a further 1.9 million.
The Gift of the Givers are part of the massive relief operation underway in the devastated country.
The group has been in the South East Asian country for the past two days but have not yet reached their final destination due to limited access to planes and boats leaving the capital.
Coordinator Ahmed Bham says while they wait for the team's transport arrangement to the city of Cebu to be finalised, they'll start moving the aid to the affected areas.
Bahm says logistical challenges have been a major issue for them.
"Other teams have come in but everyone's concentrating in one area. We'd like to go to areas that have still not been reached by aid. We will be meeting with the Philippine Coast Guard to try get through the groundwork as soon as possible."
Traveling out of Manila to the Leyte province is proving to be one of the biggest obstacles for the Gift of the Givers but also for thousands of Filipinos with family members who were affected by the typhoon.
As the death toll continues to rise, thousands of people remain stranded in the country's capital with no way of reaching their families in the worst affected areas.
In Leyte, aid has been shipped to cities such as Tacloban, Polompon, Isabel and Omron but some fishing villages have still not received aid and the true extent of the damage is not yet known.
Edgor Enriquez has a wife and four-year-old son in the city of Omron and says his house has been completely destroyed and they have nothing to eat.
"They're alive but they need help," he says, saying he'll have to leave his post as tourist guide in the capital to assist his family.
"A man can do a lot of things for the family - he can gather food."
Enriquez says during past typhoon seasons here the state had reservists on standby to provide relief, but this time, no-one came to help them.
He slammed the government, describing its preparations for the typhoon and subsequent efforts as being "inefficient."
Enriquez is just one of hundreds of people reaching out to foreign relief teams in Manila, asking them to help find their loved ones.
Meanwhile, a 60-person team from Rescue South Africa is due to arrive in the Philippines later on Sunday to supplement the relief mission.
At the same time, many residents have raised questions about the warning sent out before Haiyan made landfall.
Enriquez says, before the typhoon hit, the state issued a warning and compared it to Hurricane Katrina.
But he says the message didn't filter through as it was not clear enough for many locals.
"They should have spoken the typhoon forecast in the local language. The experts spoke in English, they don't speak the language!"