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Filipino groups collecting money for flood and typhoon relief

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  • AP
    Residents affected by Friday's flash flooding

Filipino community organizations in Hawaii are raising money for victims of Typhoon Sendong in the Philippines.

Donations are being accepted for the “Philippine Disaster Relief Fund Drive: Typhoon Sendong” at the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu. A phone bank drive will also be held at the community center on Dec. 26 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Organizers plan to set up multiple locations on Oahu on the day of the phone bank drive where the public can make donations.

For more information, call the Filipino Community Center at 680-0451.

On Dec. 17, Typhoon Sendong struck Cagayan de Oro in the southern Philippines, killing more than 1,000 people. Many have yet to be accounted for.

In all, 640,000 people have been affected by the disaster, the government and the U.N. said.

About 45,000 displaced are inside evacuation centers, most of them in worst-hit Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities in the southern Mindanao region. Another 266,000 are being assisted outside temporary shelters.

Nearly 30,000 houses were destroyed and damaged. The two cities are home to nearly a million people.

Local authorities and grieving relatives were moving ahead with dozens of burials each day. The handful of local funeral parlors are overwhelmed and have stopped accepting bodies, which are still being retrieved from the sea or mud almost a week after the disaster.

U.N. humanitarian coordinator Soe Nyunt-U voiced concern about possible outbreaks of disease among the thousands living in evacuation centers after their houses were washed away last Friday when a tropical storm unleashed the flash floods.

“It was as if the cities were hit by an inland tsunami,” Nyunt-U told reporters in Manila. “Entire areas were completely flattened. “

Aid workers were rushing in relief supplies, but a lack of running water was a major concern.

“We must improve this situation at the soonest possible time to avoid disease outbreaks that will further compound the hardships of the people already weakened by hunger and grief from loss of family and friends,” Nyunt-U said.

He mentioned a cholera type virus that may occur due to problems stemming from congestion in the evacuation centers, where poor sanitation and hygiene posed a health risk.

Nyunt-U said he was hopeful donors and foreign governments would respond despite the global economic crisis. An appeal launched following a 2009 typhoon that killed about 500 people in Manila collected only half the funds needed.

“It’s the Christmas season and the willingness of the international community is high,” he said, adding that “no country can stand alone.”

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