News / Asia

Search for the Missing Continues in Tacloban, Philippines

Search for the Missing Continues in Tacloban, Philippinesi
April 01, 2014 6:01 AM
Four months after Typhoon Haiyan devastated parts of the Philippines, the search for the missing continues. Thousands of bodies have yet to be found or identified and some say the process has taken too long.
Search for the Missing Continues in Tacloban, Philippines
Jason Strother / Malte Kollenberg
Four months after Typhoon Haiyan devastated parts of the Philippines, the search for the missing continues.  Thousands of bodies have yet to be found or identified and some say the process has taken too long. 
Corazon Go’s house was destroyed when Typhoon Haiyan flooded her bayside village.  

But the 56-year-old lost much more than just her home. “It was the last time I saw my daughters.  They could not swim in that water,” she explained. 
The body of one daughter, Ellen, 33, was recovered.  But her other child, Eden, 37, has not been found.
At least 2,600 bodies have been recovered in the city of Tacloban since November’s typhoon.  
Specially-trained search dogs have been flown into Tacloban from the United States to help with the recovery effort.
Dog handler Jim Houck is with the group Global Disaster Immediate Response Team, (Global D.I.R.T.). 

“The terrain we are searching is very difficult, very tight mangroves," he said. "When we do find remains, we mark it and have locals come in to remove the remains.  Our hope is we go out and we don’t find any remains. Unfortunately, we do, we do find remains”
Finding the remains of the missing is one challenge for Tacloban.  Another is identifying the thousands of corpses that were buried in mass graves after the typhoon.
Doctors are now examining these bodies and conducting DNA tests in hopes of bringing closure to those still searching for lost family.  But some say they do not have enough support from the local government to get the job done.
Bernardita Valenzuela, spokeswoman for Tacloban’s mayor, said the local government is doing the best that it can, but in Typhoon Haiyan’s wake, it is broke.

“The destruction is so massive and widespread. It’s not really enough," she said.  "Even though there is well meaning people and organizations who come from abroad, it is not enough.  Our resources our very limited.”  

As for Corazon Go and her neighbors, they are rebuilding and trying to get back to their normal lives. But for her, that also means letting go of everything and everyone she lost to the typhoon.

“After more than three months, we have lost hope in ever seeing the body of our daughter again,” she sadly added.

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