Rome responds to Philippine typhoon

Support from Rome mayor, UN agencies and Catholic Church

The Philippine embassy in Rome has opened a book of condolences for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan which caused devastation in the country's central Visayan region on 8 November. The book will be open on Wednesday 13 November from 10.00-13.00 at the embassy on Viale delle Medaglie D’Oro 112-114.

Philippine president Benigno Aquino told CNN on 12 November that the death toll from the typhoon may be lower than the 10,000 first reported, and the figure was more likely up to 2,500.

The United Nations says that over 11 million people are believed to have been affected, with some 673,000 displaced, and rescue teams are struggling to reach isolated places. The regions affected are experiencing shortages of food and water, as well as a lack of electricity and communication facilities.

In a letter to the Philippines ambassador to Italy Virgilio H. Reyes, Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino expressed his condolences on behalf of the citizens of the capital. "Rome feels particularly close to the Filipino people because it does not forget the hard-working presence and valuable contribution of the resident community to the social, economic and human development of the city," Marino wrote.

Following the Angelus in St Peter's Square on 10 November Pope Francis offered prayers for those affected by the typhoon. A message from the pope asking Twitter users to join him in prayer for the typhoon's victims was subsequently re-tweeted over 30,000 times.

The archbishop of Manila Cardinal Tagle told Vatican Radio that the images of destruction left him speechless but said he also drew strength “from the love, the concern, the solidarity pouring in, not just from other parts of the Philippines but from all over world.”

The church of S. Silvestro in Capite in Rome is administered by Irish Pallottine priests and brothers, and also serves as a church for the city's Philippine community. The church's rector Fr John Fitzpatrick told Wanted in Rome that a Mass in English would be held at 17.00 on Sunday 24 November, dedicated to the victims of the typhoon and those left suffering in its wake. Fr Fitzpatrick also said that the church would take up a collection after the Mass to send to the Philippines.

Details for donating to the relief fund can be found on the Philippine embassy website, as well as Rome-based UN agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).