MFA: 3 Singaporean students safe and have flown out of Philippines typhoon zone

Singapore's Ambassador to the Philippines, Mr Hirubalan V P (right), met the Singaporeans (from left), Eileen Heng, Alyssa Chee and Vanessa Chong, at the headquarters of Villamor airbase, Manila. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a st
Singapore's Ambassador to the Philippines, Mr Hirubalan V P (right), met the Singaporeans (from left), Eileen Heng, Alyssa Chee and Vanessa Chong, at the headquarters of Villamor airbase, Manila. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a statement on Monday, Nov 11, 2013, that the three Singaporean students who were in Tacloban, Phillipines, when a deadly typhoon hit, are safe and now in Manila. -- PHOTO: MFA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a statement Monday evening that the three Singaporean students who were in Tacloban, Phillipines, when a deadly typhoon hit, are safe and now in Manila.

"The three Singaporean girls, Ms Eileen Heng, Ms Alyssa Chee and Ms Vanessa Chong, who were earlier uncontactable, have arrived safely in Manila, and were met by the staff of our Embassy," said a statement from the MFA at 8.45pm. "We hope to reunite the girls with their families as soon as possible."

Ms Eileen Heng, Ms Alyssa Chee and Ms Vanessa Chong - all 23-years-old and final-year Nutrition and Dietetics students at Flinders University in Australia - had previously been unaccounted for over the weekend since the typhoon hit Tacloban on Friday.

It was only after three days of agonized waiting that their families finally heard from them on Monday. Speaking to The Straits Times on Monday evening, Ms Chong's younger sister, Amelia said: "Yes, we finally heard from my dearest sister Vanessa." Her sister had called their mother earlier to inform them that she was "safe with the Singapore Civil Defence Force" and at the Tacloban Airport.

The Straits Times understand the trio will fly back to Singapore directly from Manila.

The three students had gone to Tacloban on Oct 20 for a month-long school placement project under Flinders to work with a local non-profit group, Volunteer for the Visayans, tailoring projects to combat hunger and improve food security in the area. They had been scheduled to fly back on Nov 22.