Al Gore visits 'Yolanda' ground zero

Agence France-Press

Posted at Mar 13 2016 02:25 PM | Updated as of Mar 14 2016 02:04 AM


LEYTE - Climate change activist and former US vice president Al Gore made a surprise visit Sunday to Tacloban, a city ravaged by one of the strongest storms on record.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke with survivors of the Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

"We hope his visit reminds the world of what happened after Yolanda," 51-year-old typhoon survivor Demetria Raya told Agence France-Presse, referring to the local name for Haiyan.

The mother of three said she met Gore Saturday in a seaside village near Tacloban airport where her home once stood, before it was wiped out by the storm.

"He asked if I want to rebuild my house here. I said no. This place reminds me of my ordeal, how the waves washed away everything," said Raya, who now lives in a temporary shelter several kilometers away.

Gore also lit candles at a mass grave for thousands killed by the typhoon.

He also visited the MV Eva Jocelyn, a 3,000-ton cargo vessel washed inland when Yolanda struck. The ship serves as a memorial of the calamity.

Senator Loren Legarda and Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez accompanied Gore who attended a brief meeting with local officials.

Climate Reality, a US non-governmental organisation founded by Gore, is holding a seminar on adapting to climate change in Manila next week.

More than two years after Yolanda, Tacloban and surrounding areas have yet to recover, with many living in shanty towns without running water and electricity. Survivors often still bear emotional scars.

(READ: Tales in tikog leaves: Weaving past 'Yolanda')

Yolanda swept through central Philippines in November 2013, with giant waves wiping out entire communities and leaving 7,500 people dead or missing.

Since the disaster, high-profile personalities including the Pope and French President Francois Hollande have visited Tacloban to call attention to the effects of climate change.

Experts are studying the link between climate change and the increasing strength of storms battering the nation. -- With reports from Agence France-Presse; Sharon Evite, ABS-CBN News