At 6.38am last Friday, Madam Lisa Ng received a text message from her daughter.
"Mother, typhoon is very bad here. Please pray for me. I love you and papa," it read.
Miss Alyssa Chee, 23, a final-year nutrition and dietetics student at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, had been in Tacloban, the Philippines, with two course mates, Ms Eileen Heng and Ms Vanessa Chong, both 23, since Oct 21.
They were on a school placement project working with a local non-profit group, Volunteer for the Visayans.
Then Typhoon Haiyan swept into the Philippines last Friday. The super typhoon caused widespread destruction and has reportedly claimed up to 10,000 lives.
Among the worst-hit areas was Tacloban, about 700km south-east of the capital Manila. Telecommunication lines and power supply to the city were cut off.
By the time Madam Ng, 61, woke up and saw the message, it was two hours later. In shock and filled with dread, she tried in vain to reach her daughter on her mobile phone.
"I even called the phone company and asked them to put me through, but they said they couldn't because all the phone lines were destroyed by the typhoon," Madam Ng told The New Paper in Mandarin on Monday. Thus began the family's weekend of fear and anxiety.