All LDS missionaries in Philippines now 'safe and accounted for'
When communication with Tacloban Mission President Jose Veneracion Andaya proved impossible, the church sent a Welfare Department employee to Leyte to establish contact.
On Sunday night, Elder W. Craig Zwick, an executive director in the church's Missionary Department, said in a statement that "church leaders continue to make contact with missionaries throughout the Tacloban Mission in the Philippines, and all those we have been able to reach are safe. We anticipate that as we continue to re-establish communication, the remaining missionaries will be located and found well. We unite our faith and prayers with others in behalf of the people of the Philippines."
Attention now turns to efforts to relieve the suffering caused by one of the strongest storms to hit Asia, with winds reaching 295 kph, worse than a Category 5 hurricane.
The impact was devastating.
"I have not spoken to anyone who has not lost someone, a relative close to them. We are looking for as many as we can," Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez told CNN.
Officials are enforcing an 8 p.m. curfew.
"Tacloban is a chaotic, dangerous place right now," Nelia Baltazar, 52 years old, shouted over her shoulder to a Wall Street Journal reporter from her perch on a motorbike behind her husband. "We just want to leave."
The Philippine islands are home to the largest concentration of Latter-day Saints in Asia, with more than 675,000 church members. The church has 20 other Filipino missions, about a third of which were in the storm's path.
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