Premature births rise after typhoon

Many women have given birth prematurely due to the stress of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Residents watch as US troops deliver relief aid from a US Marines Osprey aircraft at Balangiga City, Samar Province on November 16, 2013. Picture: AFP.

PHILIPPINES - In the midst of a humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Philippines, thousands of women have given birth prematurely due to extreme stress.

Natural disaster Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines nearly two weeks ago, claiming an estimated 4,000 lives and displacing as many as 1.9 million.

Women from Tacloban, Ormoc and other areas have been rushed to military bases to give birth as most hospitals and clinics have been destroyed.

Aid worker for non-governmental organisation Gift of the Givers Erlinda Prame says the evacuation centre at the Cebu Military Base delivered three babies this week.

"Three pregnant women, who were sent to the airbase hospital and gave birth, gave birth to healthy babies. If there are pregnant women coming in they are referred to the medics for further help."

SA NGO ARRIVES IN LEYTE

After two cancelled flights and some last-minute changes to its mission plan, South African aid group Gift of the Givers finally arrived in the Philippines province of Leyte to assist desperate survivors.

It has taken the crew four days to reach the town of Palompon where the eye of the storm passed over earlier this month.

Two groups of rescue workers and doctors decided to brave a six-hour boat trip on the Pacific Ocean to reach victims.

Team leader Ahmed Bham said the team's spirits were high.

Bham and the crew had to protect essential medicine from rough seas and waves that continued to crash on the deck.

The trip followed several unsuccessful attempts to get to Palampon with the Filipino military, but the crew says it is only making them more committed to the cause.

Meanwhile, Filipino engineers have salvaged generators from a flooded IT park to bring light back to some streets of Leyte Province, the Energy Ministry said on Monday, as the World Bank offered a $500 million loan for rebuilding.

Night falls early in the tropical Philippines, which is one of the biggest challenges in ensuring security on the worst-hit island of Leyte, where an estimated 70 to 80 percent of structures in the path of the 8 November storm were reduced to matchwood and rubble.

Nearly 95 percent of the deaths from the typhoon came from Leyte and Eastern Samar.