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Manila Masters to go ahead despite typhoon disaster

(Reuters) - The inaugural Manila Masters golf tournament will go ahead this week, despite the unprecedented disaster caused by Typhoon Haiyan, the Asian Tour said on Wednesday.

The super typhoon, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, killed thousands and displaced 670,000 people, leaving them with no access to food, water or medicine.

The storm flattened Tacloban, coastal capital of Leyte province, where several local officials have said they feared 10,000 people died, many drowning in a tsunami-like surge of seawater.

The Tour consulted with local golf associations, authorities and relief agencies and decided to continue with the $750,000 event to be held at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club from Thursday.

"The people in this country are resilient and they have shown countless times that they are able to bounce back stronger," Stephen Reilly, chief operating officer of title sponsors Resorts World Manila, said in a statement.

"Through this tournament, we want to show that the Filipinos are survivors and we'll get back on our feet quickly."

Organizers also plan to raise funds and support relief authorities through the event.

"We feel for the people affected by this unfortunate tragedy and hope that through the staging of this tournament, and through our support of aid and relief programs, we will be able to help in whatever way possible," Asian Tour Chief Executive Mike Kerr added.

Two-time PGA Tour winner Daniel Chopra said the players wanted to do their bit for the affected people.

"I've always wanted to play at Manila Southwoods again and furthermore, I thought the Philippines needs help right now," Chopra, who is born to a Swedish mother and Indian father, said.

"It was an easy decision for me to make between playing here or back on the PGA Tour in Mexico. We've got the Red Cross here this week so hopefully some of the players here can provide some sort of support financially to help the victims."

Local hope Angelo Que also promised help.

"Unfortunately, the typhoon has to happen but we're all good to help. I think it's a good thing that all players get together and help out," Que, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, said.

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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