As many as 20 Swedes are feared missing in the Philippines in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, which is estimated to have killed up to 10,000 people, reported Swedish The Local.
The Swedish foreign ministry has said that there are around 2,000 Swedes based in the Philippines. Of those, approximately 200 are permanent residents, with the remainder made up of backpackers and holidaymakers.
In the early hours of Monday morning the Swedish embassy in Bangkok, which also has responsibility for the Philippines, said that an estimated 20 Swedish nationals remain unaccounted for. A spokesperson for the embassy told Sveriges Television (SVT) that the figure changes regularly based on new information.
Friday’s typhoon left a trail of devastation which has affected up to four million people. A local airport was flattened and the scenes have been described as “absolute bedlam” by the head of the Red Cross.
Sweden has already allocated 20 million kronor ($3 million) in aid and a relief effort from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) is on the way.
“Shortly after lunch on Monday a Hercules aeroplane will take off from Örebro Airport for the Philippines, carrying base camps and communications equipment.The camps have space for 60 UN personnel.
“The Swedish base camps will be a hub for the UN’s disaster relief organizations on the scene. From these camps, UN field staff will be able to help those affected,” said the MSB in a press statement.
Sweden’s foreign minister, Carl Bildt, hasn’t ruled out dispatching flight assistance for stranded Swedes in the disaster zone.
“We haven’t received any such requests but can’t rule out anything in these situations,” Bildt told Expressen.
The Swedish relief effort will include regular supplies such as tents but also specialist telecommunications equipment to get phones and internet connections up and running.
“That has become something of a speciality for us. Ericsson helps us with that in general. We set up the communication for internet very quickly as it is absolutely crucial to co-oridinate the relief efforts and help people find each other,” added Bildt.
Bildt is expected to meet up with 51 other international foreign ministers in India where tackling the Philippines disaster is expected to top the agenda.
The Swedish foreign ministry has urged all Swedes based in the Philippines to contact relatives back home or to reach out to the embassy in Bangkok or consulates in Manila and Cebu.
Typhoon Haiyan has moved on to northern Vietnam, where there is an estimated 500 Swedes, but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.