NEWS

Philippines Typhoon 2013: Number Of Canadians Missing Drops

11/18/2013 09:15 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
OTTAWA - Canada will contribute another $15 million for humanitarian relief in the Philippines, bringing the total Canadian government contribution to $20 million.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the increase Monday during a visit to a Toronto Catholic parish where he met members of the Filipino-Canadian community.

"Our government has taken decisive action to address the ravages of the typhoon by working closely with the Filipino-Canadian community, relief agencies and the government of the Philippines to provide ongoing support to those who need it most," Harper said in a statement.

He said the money will go to a range of relief efforts.

In an interview later Monday with Winnipeg radio station CJOB, Harper urged Canadians to take advantage of the government's offer to match aid contributions dollar for dollar.

He said Canada now has close to 300 officials there, including the DART team, delivering aid in the form of medical services, water purification and logistical and engineering assistance.

"We're encouraging Canadians as well to contribute," Harper said.

"Support from Canadians themselves is now close to $20 million. This continues to be something that Canadians across the country — not just Filipino-Canadians; obviously it's an effort led by Filipino-Canadians, but that I think all Canadians — have really been touched by."

Word of the additional funding came as Canadian troops fan out to help people in the Philippines and Foreign Affairs continues efforts to track down Canadians thought to be in areas hit by the typhoon.

As of Monday morning, the federal department had received inquiries about 213 Canadians and had located 174. That leaves 39 cases still being pursued by officials at home and in the islands.

Neil Reeder, Canada's ambassador-designate to the Philippines, said Canadian teams are working with local officials to track down the missing.

So far, there have been no reports of Canadians killed or injured in the typhoon.

A Canadian Red Cross field hospital is being set up in Ormoc, near the devastated city of Tacloban. It's expected to be operational by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, more military aid equipment — including helicopters and a water purification unit — is en route to the Canadian area of responsibility on the island of Panay.

Col. Steve Kelsey of joint operations command said the first water unit should be up and running in the city of Roxas by mid-week, with three more coming.

"Our mobile medical teams have begun conducting patrols in the area in the areas of need identified by our humanitarian partners," Kelsey said.

"Since Sunday, these teams have provided treatment to people in the coastal towns of Pilar, Pontevedra and other areas."

While conditions are improving in some areas, problems remain, Reeder said.

"Access to the affected regions has improved, but the access to some faraway regions is still difficult."

He said the Philippines government estimates that than 200,000 homes have been totally or partially destroyed in the Canadian area, with over a million people displaced.

"There are also more than 250 evacuation centres established in these two provinces."

Kelsey said Canadian engineers are working to clear roads and repair the electrical grid.

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