SA NGO arrives in Leyte

After four days of travel, Gift of the Givers arrived in Leyte Province to assist typhoon survivors.

Gift of the Givers loading aid for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

PHILIPPINES - 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 of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

An estimated 4,000 people have been killed by the typhoon and 1.9 million others have been displaced.

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.