Filipino sailors arrive in UK ports to news of typhoon

Thousands of Filipino sailors arrive at the Port of Immingham in Lincolnshire
Thousands of Filipino sailors arrive at the Port of Immingham in Lincolnshire Photo: Google Maps

Around 60 per cent of seafarers who land in British ports are from the Philippines and many will not have heard about Typhoon Haiyan.

In an article for ITV News, Colum Kelly, who is port chaplain at the Port of Immingham in Lincolnshire, writes about the sailors' fears for relatives and why he is holding a mass for them tonight.

Most of those I have spoken to have been able to contact their families and know that they are alive, but some have failed to do so. Obviously that may well be because communications are down. For them it is waiting game.

Where lads have been unable to make contact, the shipping companies that employ them are making every effort they can to help through their local offices in the Philippines. There is a lot of pulling together.

A lot of the seafarers have lost their homes, but their overriding concern is for their families' hunger.

Children from Bantayan Island in the southern Philippines
Children from Bantayan Island in the southern Philippines Credit: ITV News

Until they came ashore, many of them didn’t see any television news and so did not known about the typhoon. One of the things being highlighted on the television is the families crying out for food. That makes them quite agitated as they worry that maybe their kids are going without.

People have been sending money home but this isn’t always a good idea because we don’t know what is happening at the receiving end. Collecting the money could be an issue.

I spoke to one guy today whose wife has lost seven family members.

A port chaplain for Apostleship of the Sea
A port chaplain for Apostleship of the Sea Credit: Apostleship of the Sea

I think when we see a tragedy like this, there is an overriding impulse to do something to make it better.

The whole purpose of the mass tonight is to bring seafarers off their ships to mix with the local Filipino community, so they know that there are people who are able to stand by them and share in their grief and tears.

Seafarers are quite a stoic lot. They are resilient. You often see them shrug and say: "Such is the life of a seafarer". But work continues and they are working as hard as ever. They all have contracts that they have to see out. Life at sea is hard, but this is so different. They are supporting each other.

Colum Kelly is a chaplain for the Apostleship of the Sea at the Port of Immingham in Lincolnshire. His views do not necessarily represent those of ITV News.