Mental trauma haunts Philippines typhoon survivors  

November 25, 2013 8:10 AM

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TACLOBAN: Rodico Basilides visits a forlorn cross that stands as a memorial to his family who died in the catastrophic Philippine typhoon, one of countless survivors who are being forced to grieve without professional counselling.

"This is for my wife, Gladys, and four children. They were swept away by the waves," Basilides, 42, said as he stood alongside the cross made of two sticks tied together with green string on the floor of what used to be his seaside home.

As Basilides, a mini-bus driver, left the rain-soaked ruins, he met Jovelyn Taniega, a friend who lost her husband and six children when Super Typhoon Haiyan smashed the central Philippines with unprecedented ferocity on November 8.Taniega, 39, still looking to be in a state of shock, had also returned to the spot where her family was swept away in giant storm surges, trying to find some solace by being close to where she last touched them.

"I’m alone now. It’s very painful, I miss my family a lot," she said, shielding herself from the rain with an umbrella. "I feel like I’m going crazy.

"As the rescue and emergency phase of helping the survivors winds down, medical and social workers are appealing for trauma experts to counsel typhoon survivors such as Taniega and Basilides.

But like all other aspects of the response to the disaster, the scale of the psychological needs is overwhelming.

More than 5,200 people have been confirmed killed and another 1,600 are missing after Haiyan tore across some of the country’s poorest islands, generating tsunami-like waves that left dozens of towns in ruins.

About four million people have been left homeless and 10 million affected, according to the government.


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