Typhoon Haiyan: Anxious wait for Welsh relatives

A mother from Wrexham, whose 14-year-old son was caught up in the devastating storm, has been trying to contact him and other relatives

Relatives of people hit by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines have spoken of their anxious wait to hear news of their loved ones.

One Wrexham woman is anxious to speak to her 14-year-old son who lives with relatives in her home village.

Divina Alavarta-Hughes from Cefn Mawr says she has heard from her sister that her son is safe but she is desperate to speak to him herself.

The Filipino Welsh Association is also planning its response to the disaster.

The United Nations has launched an appeal for $301m (£190m) to help relief efforts.

At least 10,000 people are feared to have been killed by Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the central Philippines on Friday.

'Heartbreaking'

Mrs Alavarta-Hughes' house in Jinalinan has been totally destroyed.

She has five children living in the Philippines but only her youngest son Andrei-Prince, 14, was in Jinalinan, which was badly affected by the typhoon.

 Divina Alavarta-Hughes and her husband Steven Mrs Alavarta-Hughes and her husband Steven are anxious to speak to her son

He lives with the sister of Mrs Alavarta-Hughes, across the road from the home she owned.

"It's really heartbreaking," said Mrs Alavarta-Hughes, 47, who moved to Wales about four years ago.

"They're telling me my son is alright. I'm really frustrated because I can't speak to him," she added.

In Swansea, chair of the Filipino Welsh Association Evelyn Morgan said the group was meeting shortly to plan its response to the disaster.

She has had brief contact with her sister and her brother, who works in the devastated city of Tacloban, but is anxious to hear from her aunt and cousins who live there to be reassured that they have escaped unhurt.

She told BBC News: "My brother phoned my in the early hours of the morning and just mentioned he was there and then was cut off.

"There has been no connection since then.

"Not so many people in the country have the internet. They all have mobile phones so of course communication is cut off. We can only watch on the news.

"I was in tears .... to see that I was there staying with my family over there and now it's all flattened.

"My community will do as much as we can to help."

'Distress and disbelief'

Daniel Williams, originally from Kenfig Hill, has lived in the Philippine capital Manila for five years.

He told BBC Wales via a Skype link that the country was used to typhoons during the usual season but reports had warned this one could be bigger than any experienced before.

"A lot of people were worried. Manila was largely unaffected but there was a lot of distress and a lot of disbelief about what's happened. It's really harrowing," he said.

"It's quite a tense situation at the moment. A lot of people are frantically trying to get in touch but down to the communication lines being down and the infrastructure there it's difficult to get hold of people."

Mr William's rugby team, the Manila Nomads, is taking part in a charity tournament which is an annual event in the city of Cebu at the weekend.

His team plan to take relief goods to the city and do what they can to help out.

Back in Wales, composer Dan Curtis from Caerphilly is organising a concert for the Philippines Red Cross relief fund at St Margaret's Church on 28 November.

He said he and his wife Laura had had a lot of contact with the Philippines, including working with Disney film singer Lea Salonga, and they felt "they should do something to raise some money and try to help them out".

Meanwhile First Minister Carwyn Jones urged people in Wales to make a donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee's (DEC) appeal.

"The people of Wales have shown great generosity to DEC appeals in the past, and I urge them to show their support once again to help the millions of people suffering in the Philippines," he said.

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