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'Absolute Bedlam' In The Philippines After Typhoon Haiyan
Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 6:17 am
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The news from the Philippines, where it's feared that last week's powerful Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 10,000 people, isn't getting better as hundreds of thousands of people struggle to survive and authorities struggle to get help to them.
"It's absolute bedlam right now," Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine Red Cross, tells the BBC.
According to the BBC, "a huge international relief effort is underway, but rescue workers have struggled to reach some towns and villages cut off since the storm. 'There's an awful lot of casualties, a lot of people dead all over the place, a lot of destruction,' " Gordon says.
On Morning Edition, Lynette Lim of Save the Children described the scene in Tacloban, one of the hardest-hit cities. She was there over the weekend. "Complete areas have been totally flattened," Lim said. "It was truly catastrophic."
Freelance journalist Aurora Almendral spoke to NPR from the the town of Hilongos en route to hardest-hit Tacloban City. She said some people who had managed to get food and water were worried about looters who might try to take it.
Almendral related one young woman she met who "hasn't heard from her family since before the storm. [Her] father, mother, brother and four-year-old daughter. She has absolutely no news."
"Dazed survivors begged for help and scavenged for food, water and medicine on Monday, as relief workers struggled to reach victims. ... As President Benigno Aquino deployed hundreds of soldiers in the coastal city of Tacloban to quell looting, the huge scale of death and destruction become clearer as reports emerged of thousands of people missing and images showed apocalyptic scenes in one town that has not been reached by rescue workers. ...
"Flattened by surging waves and monster winds up to 235 mph, Tacloban, 360 miles southeast of Manila, was relying almost entirely for supplies and evacuation on just three military transport planes flying from nearby Cebu city."
"Magina Fernandez, one of many survivors who were trying to get out of Tacloban at the city's crippled airport at the weekend, described the situation there as 'worse than hell.'
" 'Get international help to come here now — not tomorrow, now,' she said. ...
"Tacloban was shattered by Haiyan, whose tremendous force brought a wall of water roaring off the Gulf of Leyte. The storm surge leveled entire neighborhoods of wooden houses and flung large ships ashore like toys.
" 'I have not spoken to anyone who has not lost someone, a relative close to them,' said the city's mayor, Alfred Romualdez, who narrowly escaped death during the storm's fury. 'We are looking for as many as we can.' ...
"Fishing communities stretch for miles down the eastern coast of the island of Leyte. ... The other settlements along the coast are likely to have suffered a similar fate to Tacloban."
United Nations officials report that about 9.5 million people in the Philippines have been affected by the typhoon and its aftermath. Around 620,000 were forced from their homes. The number of confirmed deaths — which on Sunday was just over 200 — was by Monday said to be about 1,000.
But as we reported over the weekend, officials are warning that the number of deaths will likely rise to 10,000.
The U.S. military has joined in the rescue effort. According to Agence France Presse, "in Tacloban, U.S. military C-130 planes full of relief supplies began arriving on Monday afternoon. The planes, with Marines aboard, were the most visible sign of a major international relief effort that had begun to build."
NPR's Anthony Kuhn, who is in Manila, tells our Newscast Desk that the U.S. military is bringing in water, generators and trucks. Foreign governments and aid groups, he adds, "have begun shipping food, medicine and supplies to the hard-hit Visayas region on the Philippines' eastern seaboard."
Meanwhile, as AFP adds, "Haiyan swept out into the South China Sea on Saturday and hit Vietnam on Monday in a significantly weakened state, although still strong enough to uproot trees and tear roofs off hundreds of homes. National disaster officials in Vietnam said no deaths had been reported on Monday, although state media said five people had died during preparations for the typhoon."