Frustrations grow over slow relief efforts in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan
Published Saturday, November 9, 2013 7:11AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 10, 2013 10:25PM EST
As the full devastation of Typhoon Haiyan became more evident Sunday, frustrations were running high among survivors desperate for relief aid three days after the disaster.
Typhoon Haiyan pummeled the Philippines’ eastern seaboard Friday. It flattened buildings and toppled trees, and authorities are still struggling to assess the full extent of damage left behind.
Survivors in some areas hardest-hit do not have access to food, water or an ability to communicate. Even the Philippine Red Cross and the ICRC offices in badly-hit Tacloban had been damaged, forcing staff to relocate temporarily.
“The devastation is ... I don't have the words for it," Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said. "It's really horrific. It's a great human tragedy."
The country had been bracing for rain and winds, but a massive storm surge of six metres caught the archipelago by surprise Friday, reaching up to a kilometre inland. Residents drowned and were washed away.
With winds that gusted to 275 kilometres per hour, officials say the typhoon was more powerful than 2007’s Hurrican Katrina, and twice as strong as Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of Northeastern United States last year.
The destruction is far-reaching:
- Estimates say at least 4 million people have been affected by the storm.
- Haiyan inflicted serious damage to at least six of the archipelago's more than 7,000 islands
- The islands of Leyte, Samar and the northern part of Cebu appearing to bear the brunt of the storm.
- UNICEF estimated that 1.7 million children live in areas affected by the typhoon.
At least 300 people were confirmed dead and 2,000 missing on the eastern island of Samar, where some towns remain inaccessible to emergency crews. An official from the provincial disaster office in Samar said there was no power or cellphone signals.
The death toll in Tacloban, the capital city of Leyte Island, is estimated at 10,000. There, corpses were found laying in the streets, cars floating in water. Homes along the shoreline were severely damaged. In one area of the city, a large ship had been pushed ashore.
Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez said the devastation has touched all residents. “I have not spoken to anyone who has not lost someone, a relative close to them,” he said.
Philippine-born Australian Mila Ward, 53, told The Associated Press that she passed “well over 100” bodies on the street on the way to Tacloban airport.
“They were covered with just anything – tarpaulin, roofing sheets, cardboard,” she said.
‘Worse than hell’
Only one hospital is still functioning in Tacloban, but it’s so full patients are being turned away due to capacity issues. And with no power, the hospital can only offer basic first aid.
As international aid efforts get underway, the Philippine government promised to send military reinforcements to deal with looters in search of food, water and fuel.
President Benigno Aquino III said Sunday he was considering declaring martial law or a state of emergency, which usually includes curfews, increased security patrols and price and food supply controls.
But there is growing anger over what survivors say is a slow response to the disaster.
Thousands of people, some who walked for days, flocked to the Tacloban airport, desperate for food, water and escape.
Magina Fernandez, who lost her home and business, was one of them. “This is really, really bad,” she said. “Worse than hell.”
International relief efforts began to trickle in Sunday. Two planes carrying U.S. Marines were expected to arrive in the evening. U.S. President Barack Obama is promising more humanitarian aid.
According to the Hong Kong meteorological observatory, a weakened Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in northern Vietnam early Monday. The observatory says the maximum sustained winds near its centre are 120 kilometres per hour. Authorities said evacuation efforts were underway.
With a report from CTV News’ Tom Walters and with files from The Associated Press