10 Nov 2013

Thousands feared dead in Philippines typhoon aftermath

At least 10,000 people have been killed in the central Philippines, with estimates expected to leap once remote regions are reached, following one of the most powerful storms ever recorded.

Huge waves have swept away entire coastal villages as super typhoon Haiyan tore through Leyte province on Friday.

The typhoon destroyed an estimated 70 to 80 percent of structures in its path as it tore through Leyte province, according to Elmer Soria, police chief superintendent.

Rescue workers have struggled to reach ravaged villages along the coast, where the death toll is currently unknown.

“People are walking like zombies looking for food,” said Jenny Chu, a medical student in Leyte, “It’s like a movie.”

The storm sustained winds of 195 miles per hour with gusts of up to 235 mph.

Surging sea water strewn with debris, resembling a tsunami, levelled houses and drowned hundreds of people in one of the worst natural disasters to hit the typhoon-prone nation.

The national government and disaster agency have not confirmed the latest estimate of 10,000 deaths, provided by a senior police official.

Early estimates on Saturday had put the figure at 1,000 dead.

Everything has been washed away, so children and their families are in desperate need of food, medicines and dry clothing – Save the Children

(Below) Tacloban Airport before and after it was struck by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Over 330,000 people were displaced and 4.3 million affected by the typhoon across 36 provinces, the UN’s humanitarian agency said.

Relief agencies have appealed for food, water and tarpaulins for the homeless.

Witnesses described chaotic scenes in Leyte’s capital, Tacloban, a coastal city where hundreds of bodies are piled on the sides of roads and pinned under wrecked homes.

Mila Ward, an Australian citizen witnessed events in Leyte, where she saw hundreds of bodies on the streets; “They were covered with blankets, plastic. There were children and women.”

Officials have yet to make contact with Guiuan, a town of 40,000 first hit by the typhoon. The city of Baco is 80 percent under water, the UN has confirmed.

At Tacloban airport, people waited in mud after trekking for hours by foot hoping to be evacuated by military aircraft.

Roads to and from the city are currently impassable, littered with debris and fallen trees and only 110 people can squeeze on to each flight.

Our house is like a skeleton and we are running out of food
Jenny Chu

At present the elderly, sick and children are being given priority.

Jenny Chu, a medical student and local resident said she can’t recognise her village; “Everything is gone.”

“Our house is like a skeleton and we are running out of food and water. We are looking for food everywhere.”

Crisis Map and People finder

Google have released two tools to assist people recover after the disaster. A Crisis Map and a People Finder tool.

Previously the Google Crisis Response team produced similar tools for those seeking friends and family following the Haiti disaster.

Their map tool below shows the path of the typhoon (named as Yolanda locally), evacuation centres and more which they will update with new information.

Save the Children have teams on the ground now in the Philippines and have released this statement.

“In areas worst hit, such as Tacloban City on the island of Leyte, there is heavy flooding and no clean water supply nor electricity. Everything has been washed away, so children and their families are in desperate need of food, medicines and dry clothing.

“Children are shocked, frightened and traumatised, and huge numbers have lost contact with their families, with no idea of whether their parents and family are even alive. Worse still, there is a tropical depression in the region that meteorologists fear may bring yet more bad weather to people that have little or no protection and are hugely vulnerable.”