Typhoon Haiyan: Archbishop of Canterbury praying for those affected

(PA)The Archbishop of Canterbury said the Church of England is offering all it can in practical and spiritual support to the Philippines

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken out following the catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, with a message of prayer and solidarity for all those affected.

"The news of the devastating storm in the Philippines is tragic, and my heart goes out to the people there. We are all deeply shocked and saddened," he opens, before voicing his concern for those most vulnerable, including "children separated from their parents, the sick and injured, the disabled and the elderly".

His message is one of alliance and fellowship, sharing that the Church will "stand beside the people of the Philippines at this devastating time, offering all we can in practical and spiritual support".

"My prayer is that governments, agencies, churches and individuals will respond generously to help the people of the Philippines to recover and rebuild their shattered lives," he said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's message follows shortly after the Vatican announced its first contribution towards the relief effort earlier today.

Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the typhoon after the Sunday Angelus in St Peter's Square yesterday and encouraged those present to support their brothers and sisters in the Philippines both financially and through prayer.

The Vatican announced that he has made the decision to send an initial aid contribution of $150,000.

The sum will be distributed by the local church in the regions that have suffered the worst effects of the typhoon, and will be used to aid those who have been displaced as a result of extreme flooding.

The donation has been described by the Vatican as "a first and concrete expression of spiritual nearness and paternal encouragement" on the part of the Pope to those who continue to be affected by the tragedy.

In line with this appeal, SCIAF, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, is the latest organisation to launch an emergency relief effort to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Partnering with Caritas Philippines and Catholic Relief Services, they have already reached many of the worst affected areas. The immediate priorities have been identified as clean water, food, shelter, hygiene kits and medicine.

Fr Edwin Gariguez, Exectutive Secretary of Caritas Philippines-NASSA, has said he fears that "the scale of destruction in yet unreached areas will be catastrophic", reminding the global community that the full extent of the damage caused by Haiyan is not yet known.

"The casualties are increasing day by day ... We really need all the help we can get," he stressed.

Although teams are already on the ground supporting aid projects, Head of International Programmes at SCIAF Lorraine Currie has spoken about the need for a long-term relief effort.

"This is a major disaster which will require a huge humanitarian response over a prolonged period," she said.

"I would urge everyone to give whatever they can to support the people in the Philippines as they try to survive over the coming days and recover in the longer term."