In response to news of a deadly Philippine cyclone and the resulting sinking of a crowded ferry, Pope Benedict XVI expressed sorrow at the calamity and offered a special prayer for the victims. According to Asia News, the Pope spoke of the calamity at the Angelus address for June 22, 2008*, at which he also called for peace in war-torn Lebanon**.
Thank you, Holy Father: it means so much that Peter is praying for us, for truly the prayers of a just man avails much (James 5:16), especially in the midst of our tragedy. Thanks likewise to all who’ve prayed for the victims and for our country, particularly our sisters and brothers at Catholic Community Forum. As all humanity is one body in Adam and Eve, and the authentic Church is but one Body in Christ, so you have lived that solidarity in Spirit and truth. God bless you.
To provide material assistance as well, La Ciudadista lists down the different institutions now accepting donations for the cyclone victims, along with the administrative details (addresses, account numbers) donors may use; and reports that the Philippine Red Cross has designated Petron gas stations for receiving non-perishable goods. Basic needs come first: La Ciudadista says that the items needed are “used clothes, canned goods, rice, bottled water, instant noodles, sleeping mats/banig, cash donations”. Let us all please help the victims as much as we can.
Typhoon Fengshen (Frank) had been been expected to miss the Philippines when it suddenly changed direction and, after entering just north of the southern island of Mindanao, traveled slowly along the main (northwest-southeast) axis of the archipelago. The result has been a devastating 2 days of rain and wind, submerging whole communities and forcing the evacuation of more than 35,500 families. 229 are known to have died according to The Age, 101 in Iloilo province alone.
The above figures don’t include the possible fatalities from the sinking of MV Princess of the Stars, a 24,000 ton ferry that capsized off Sibuyan Island in central Philippines. According to The Telegraph, the vessel had left Manila for Cebu when the storm unexpectedly changed direction to aim straight for its path; but when the captain tried to head for safer waters, its engines failed and left it prey to the huge waves. Among its 747 passengers and crew, only 4 had been rescued, though reports have trickled in of other survivors who made it ashore.
For more, see also AP and Bangkok Post. Accuweather shows a chart of Fengshen/Frank’s projected course and a NASA satellite photo of its rainfall pattern. At another post (here), Accuweather analyzes the mistaken forecast, with charts showing the forecasted and actual paths of the typhoon, and asks whether the error was caused by normal forecast variability (i.e,. the usual instability of weather patterns) or by a “bad” weather model (i.e., one that grossly misestimated the relative strengths of pressure systems). This may be something that merits looking into later on, though for now, the priority is to help whom we can.
God bless us all.
**The remarks on Lebanon were inspired by the beatification of Yaaqub/Jacob of Ghazir, better known as Khalil Haddad, a revered Lebanese Capuchin and founder of a Franciscan congregation. Beate Khalil, ora pro nobis, especially the afflicted in Lebanon and the Philippines!