Four people from Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood are missing in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the island nation in Southeast Asia.
Sisters Cristita Magno and Virginia Magno Garcia, along with their husbands Amancio Allana and Valdomar Garcia, have not been heard from since Thursday.
The Magno sisters and Allana are in their 60s, while Garcia is 75 years old.
The group travelled there in September to build a chapel in Bungtod, the village where the sisters were born and where hundreds of the Magno family’s relatives live. Cristita's daughter says building the chapel was her mother's 60th birthday wish.
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Bungtod is a village within the township of Guiuan, in the province of Eastern Samar.
Recorded as the fourth most intense tropical cyclone ever observed, Haiyan first made landfall in Guiuan. With winds whipping at 315 km/h, the typhoon was travelling at a speed equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane.
Aerial shots of Guiuan show a city completely devastated by the typhoon, with houses flattened, roofs torn off and debris littering streets and yards.
In Montreal, sister Zenaida Magno has desperately been trying to find out information about her loved ones.
“All of us are talking and talking, calling every minute; ‘Did you get the news?’” Magno says. “I call to my other sister, friends, call in Toronto to our relatives.”
She says no one has any information as of yet.
Cristita’s son Larry said when they last spoke, his parents told him they were trying to get to Manila, the capital city of the Philippines.
“They were trying to leave the town to go to Manila but the thing is, flights were already cancelled and there was no way to get out," he says.
Going by car could have put them in the storm’s path, he says, so they stayed in their village and hid as best as they could.
Joseph Gonzales of the Filipino Association of Montreal says Filipinos living here were quick to regroup and collect funds for their native country.
He says he feels for the Magno family, and many others like it.
“I don't even know, I cannot even imagine, I cannot even start to talk about how these people might be feeling right now, those Filipinos who still have families back home in the Philippines in those provinces that were directly hit,” Gonzales says.