An elderly woman has become the second Australian to die in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan wreaked havoc across the country last week, leaving up to 10,000 dead and destroying entire cities and villages.
Margaret Warriner, 87, most likely suffered a stroke or a heart attack after Typhoon Haiyan hit, son Leigh Warriner told Fairfax Media.
“She wasn’t young, so any form of shock would have had negative effects on her body,” he told Fairfax Media. He said the family were waiting for a doctor to confirm the cause of death.
Mrs Warriner had been in the Philippines for about 12 months visiting her daughter-in-law’s family when the tragedy hit.
Mr Warriner said his mother was fond of “the heat” and wanted a “change of scenery” when she first visited the country. Little did he expect it would be the last time he would see her.
On Wednesday, when Mrs Warriner passed away, Channel 9 broadcast images of the elderly woman slumped in a chair in front of her family’s house. Mr Warriner said it was confronting to see his mother looking so sick, and difficult to come to terms with the fact that it was his last image of her alive.
“It’s so sad that my mum lost her life so far away. I heard through friends that they saw my mum on the TV, and seeing the footage was a little shocking”.
It was Mr Warriner’s brother – he has two other siblings – who was first told of his mother’s death.
“He came home and there was a knock on the door from a police officer, who informed him she had passed away on Wednesday,” Mr Warriner said.
Because of the issues around access to many areas of the Philippines, Mr Warriner said he was unsure if his mother’s body could be flown back to Australia for a funeral and burial.
“I don’t know if we can get the body here, or the ashes, or if she’ll just have to be buried in the Philippines,” he said.
Mrs Warriner’s death follows that of 49-year-old former priest Kevin Lee, who was killed while swimming in the Philippines as part of a religious ritual on November 10.
Mrs Warriner, who came from a long lineage of Bendigo residents, “had strong community ties”, and was a beloved member of the family.
She had been a stay-at-home mum who looked after her children well, Mr Warriner said.
“It was lovely coming home from school and to see she was always there,” he recalled.
“She will be sadly missed”.