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Hero Walsall engineer rescues families as deadly storm rips through Philippines hotel

Walsall | News | Published:

As his Philippines hotel was battered by one of the worst storms on record, hero engineer Jonathan Fitzpatrick vowed: "I won't die like this" and kicked down doors to save families.

He went on to kick down doors, rescuing trapped families fearing for their lives.

The dramatic survival bid by the electrical engineer from Walsall was today unveiled, as it emerged the disaster had claimed up to 10,000 lives and left four million more struggling to survive without food, shelter or clean drinking water.

A scene of devastation has been left behind, with homes, schools and airport flattened.

Mr Fitzpatrick became trapped in his hotel when Typhoon Haiyan struck the city of Ormoc on Thursday afternoon.

The 23-year-old and four workmates barricaded themselves in a room at the Ormoc Villa Hotel as the storm first battered the island and then huddled in a stairwell when the strong winds returned.

He managed to speak to his family in Victoria Avenue using Skype and admitted to them that he feared he would die.

And it was another 33 hours before his relatives could get hold of him again to learn that he had survived the terrifying ordeal – and of his heroic actions.

Sister Rachel, aged 25, said: "He admitted he thought that was going to be it.

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"But he decided he didn't want to go like that, and he wanted to go fighting.

"He and his friends started kicking doors down to get the families out of their rooms and into the stairwell, and taking bottled water to hand out to people.

"He said that in some rooms there were entire families, with eight children huddling on the bed."

After helping the clean-up operation and giving one man money to help rebuild his home, Mr Fitzpatrick caught a ferry and is now in nearby Cebu and hoping to be back home before the weekend.

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A huge international relief effort is now under way, but rescue workers have struggled to reach some towns and villages cut off since the storm hit.

The head of the Red Cross in the Philippines today described the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan as 'absolute bedlam'.

Richard Gordon said: "There's an awful lot of casualties, a lot of people dead all over the place, a lot of destruction.

"It's absolute bedlam right now, but hopefully it will turn out better as more and more supplies get into the area."

He said roads had now been cleared to allow relief workers to get to the hardest hit areas, but that they expected to find many more casualties.

"It's only now that they were able to get in and we're beginning just to bring in the necessary food items as well as water and other things that they need," he added.

Forecasters are predicting that a tropical depression will move into the south and central Philippines tomorrow, potentially bringing heavy rains to further hamper relief efforts.

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