The Philippine embassy in Qatar yesterday began receiving calls on a hotline it has launched for members of the community who are unable to reach their relatives in Manila after tropical storm Ketsana inundated many parts of that country.
According to secretary to the ambassador Antonia Caba, the embassy, which has only received one call so far, forwards the “missing” person’s contact information to the Manila Action Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs and asks them to conduct a search for that person.
After the flood snapped telecom lines, many Filipino expatriates have been unable to contact their family members back home.
“Most people are giving the telecom companies the time to repair the damaged lines before they start calling us,” said Vice-Consular Jabar Adiong. “Until then we can’t determine the number of Filipino residents who have been missing family members.”
The hotline, set up yesterday by the embassy, can be accessed by dialing 25 after the embassy’s number (4831585).
The number of deaths has gone up to 150 since Saturday “after a month’s worth of rain fell in one day on Manila” sources said. Torrential rains that accompanied tropical storm Ketsana, said to be the worst the city has seen in 42 years, has left many Filipinos in Qatar worried about their loved ones back home.
Mike Madini, 43, is unable to contact his brother, who lives in the midst of the storm hit area. “I’m not sure what happened to him and his family, and my other brother, who lives away from the affected area.”
Despite his concern Madini, who works as a private nurse, is going to wait another day before calling the embassy.
“We have so much experience with typhoons, we lived through them every year growing up,” he recalled.
Other Filipinos have heard from their family members in Manila. “My wife sent me a text message telling me she was trapped in her office because of the flood,” said Noel Lazo, a graphic designer.
For two days now, Lazo’s wife has been separated from her children who, all in their teens, are trapped in their house.
“At least they’re not on the street, where they could have fallen into a manhole,” Lazo, who has also walked in chest deep water many a time in his life, said.
Meanwhile, a source at Qatar Airways said that all flights to Manila are being operated as normal.
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