November 14, 2013 – Distress Grows for Philippine Typhoon Victims Who Can’t Get Aid, or Get Out: Pictured above, residents waiting inside a damaged airport to get to a government plane out of Tacloban City.
Increasingly desperate survivors of Typhoon Haiyan mobbed the shattered airport here on Tuesday, begging for food, water or a flight to escape the chaotic aftermath of the storm, which flattened this city of 220,000 last week and ravaged vast swaths of the country’s midsection.
The Powerful Storm Surge (above): The storm’s surge swept away small villages and displaced more than 650,000 people. It was predicted to be about eight feet at its peak, but reports indicate it was higher in some areas.
The Storm’s Path: Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines at record wind speeds before losing power and heading northwest.
On the Peninsula: A devastated area near the airport.
Homes Flooded: A neighborhood about half a mile from the coast.
Even as an enormous global aid effort gathered momentum and relief supplies began trickling in to the airport here and elsewhere, officials did not have a full grasp of the magnitude of the devastation and could provide no guidance on when basic emergency needs could be met.
While President Benigno S. Aquino III suggested in a CNN interview that estimates of 10,000 or more dead may turn out to be high, international relief officials said they were still assuming the worst and expressed worry that bottlenecks and delays could prevent them from reaching millions of victims for days.
Officials in Manila found themselves on the defensive, asserting that they were doing the best they could despite a storm that Valerie Amos, the top United Nations relief coordinator, who flew to the capital to help take charge of efforts, called the “most deadly and destructive” to hit the Philippines. She pleaded for more than $300 million in emergency aid.
“There has been a lot of commentary that relief is not moving as fast as it should be,” said Praveen Agrawal, the World Food Program’s Philippines representative and country director. “The reality on the ground is there is such a level of devastation.”
Pictured above, the desolation was almost total.
The travails reached new heights on Tuesday in Tacloban, a formerly thriving city in the east-central Philippines that appeared to get the full force of the typhoon. Wearing face masks or pulling their shirts up over their noses to suppress the smell of bodies rotting on the streets, a procession of survivors three miles long walked toward the airport, where relief supplies had begun to arrive.
They witnessed the despair of survivors like Erroll de la Cruz, 34, who squatted next to the pavement to scrawl the names of his wife, Michelle, and her 7-year-old son, Matthew, on a piece of plywood. Then he walked across the crowded road and laid the plywood between their corpses, in the hope that their lives would be remembered, and that perhaps the identification could help him trace the final burying place of their remains.
“I don’t think I can handle this by myself,” he said quietly.
The people of Tacloban had been struggling largely on their own with the devastation of the typhoon, with food distribution plagued by surging crowds and a lack of manpower.
Some residents understood the delays. Lamberto Patau, 31, a bus dispatcher, said more relief shipments had arrived than could be handed out. “There is food, but there is no one to distribute it because they were all victims,” he said.
The devastation apparent during an eight-mile drive into the city center made the extent of the challenge clear. Mounds of debris up to 15 feet high towered next to the main road. Concrete pillars and other hazards that had fallen forced drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians to dodge and weave.
Police officers were operating a series of checkpoints, built of little more than scraps of wood, to try to restrain unruly behavior. An 8 p.m. curfew was imposed.
Jennifer Cicco, the administrator of the Leyte Island chapter of the Philippines Red Cross, said the conservative estimate from provincial officials was that in addition to the deaths in Tacloban, 10,000 people may have died in surrounding Leyte Province. The province is home to 1.3 million, almost all living on the coast, where many fishing villages were unprepared for the storm.
The official death toll for the entire country was 1,798 as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. But many of the hardest-hit areas had not yet been reached. Pictured below, people stood among the ruins of houses destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, a city of about 220,000.
The International Committee of the Red Cross tried to send a dozen truckloads of supplies to Tacloban from Davao in the southern Philippines ahead of the typhoon, but the storm moved so fast that the trucks did not reach their destination in time. A hungry crowd tried to hijack the convoy about 20 miles south of the city, forcing it to stop, and on Tuesday night the roads were still too unsafe for the convoy to proceed, Ms. Cicco said. (Credits – the New York Times, Getty Images and the Associated Press).
The Master of Disaster