Tacloban survivors left with nowhere to go
Having experienced typhoon Haiyan, Save the Children aid worker Lynette Lim says every single building she's seen in Tacloban has been affectedPT0M0S 620 349
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Tacloban, Philippines: A church spire, its cross hanging loose, looks down on smashed houses, wrecked cars, toppled power lines and snapped trees, as dazed survivors try to count the cost of Typhoon Haiyan.
"I think the boy saved my life because I found strength so that he can survive," said one survivor.
A bare-chested man in white shorts squats and wails. Another attempts the once-normal task of washing dishes in a container in a mangled van, as bodies lie abandoned around him.
Residents pray inside a damaged Catholic Church after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city. Photo: Reuters
Two days after one of the world's most powerful typhoons slammed into the Philippines, as many as 10,000 people are believed to have died in a single city: Tacloban.
It is near here where US General Douglas MacArthur's force of 174,000 men landed on October 20, 1944, in one of the biggest allied victories of World War Two.
Today, a team of about 90 US Marines and sailors headed to the Philippines, part of a first wave of promised US military assistance for relief efforts.
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel this weekend ordered the US military's Pacific Command to assist with search and rescue operations and provide air support in the wake of the super typhoon.
Typhoon Haiyan slams the Philippines
Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm on Earth this year, approximately 600 kilometres wide, has slammed into the Philippines' central islands forcing millions of people to move to safer ground and storm shelters, cutting power and phone lines, and grounding air and sea transport. The maximum category-five super typhoon, with destructive winds gusting up to 275 km/h, has knocked out power in one entire province and cut communications in the country's central region of island provinces. Follow us at twitter.com/photosSMH Photo: Reuters
UN leader Ban Ki-moon also promised UN humanitarian agencies will respond rapidly to help people in need.
The UN children’s fund UNICEF says a cargo plane carrying 60 tonnes of aid including shelters and medicine will arrive in the Philippines tomorrow, to be followed by deliveries of water purification and sanitation equipment.
Millions in aid has already been pledged by the EU, Britain and Germany as well as Australia and NZ and other international groups.
Even as the people of the coastal city in the Philippines come to grips with the extent of the devastation, the people of Vietnam are preparing for a lashing by the super storm.
Authorities in Vietnam say more than 600,000 people have been evacuated as Super Typhoon Haiyan veers towards Vietnam.
Residents walk past debris and destroyed houses along a road in Tacloban. Photo: AFP
Residents of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi are braced for heavy rains and flooding, while tens of thousands of people in coastal areas were ordered to take shelter yesterday ahead of Haiyan’s expected landfall this morning.
An official report by Vietnam’s flood and storm control department says they’ve evacuated more than 174,000 households, the equivalent to more than 600,000 people.
The VNExpress news site reports the storm is now expected to strike this morning after changing course, prompting further mass evacuations of some 52,000 people in northern provinces by the coast.
Survivors walk by a large ship after it was washed ashore by strong waves in Tacloban city. Photo: Getty
Not one building
In Tacloban, men, women and children tread carefully over splintered remains of wooden houses, searching for missing loved ones and belongings. From the air, television footage shows trees pulled from the ground by their roots and ships washed ashore.
Not one building seems to have escaped damage in the city of 220,000 people, the coastal capital of Leyte province, about 580 km southeast of Manila.
Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan. Photo: Getty
Survivors queue in lines, waiting for handouts of rice and water. Some sit and stare, covering their faces with rags to keep out the smell of the dead.
One woman, eight months pregnant, describes through tears how her 11 family members vanished in the storm, including two daughters. "I can't think right now," she says. "I am overwhelmed."
At the airport, people wait in mud and water after trekking three hours by foot from Tacloban City, hoping to be evacuated by military aircraft. Roads to and from the city are impassable, littered with debris and fallen trees. "We are trying to get to Cebu or Manila," one distraught tourist says. "I must go out."
Two young boys look at the devastation in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines. Photo: Getty
Only 110 people can squeeze on to each flight. The elderly, sick and children are given priority. Two soldiers carry a man who can't walk.
Jenny Chu, a medical student and local resident, 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."
"Even the delivery vans were looted," she adds. "People are walking like zombies looking for food."
Lieutenant Colonel Fermin Carangan of the Philippine Air Force recalls how he and 41 officers struggled to survive huddled in their airport office as winds approached 313 km per hour with gusts of up to 378 kph.
"Suddenly the sea water and the waves destroyed the walls and I saw my men being swept by waters one by one." Two drowned and five are missing.
He was swept away from the building and clung to a coconut tree with a seven-year-old boy.
"In the next five hours we were in the sea buffeted by wind and strong rain. It was so dark you couldn't see anything. I kept on talking to the boy and giving him a pep talk because the boy was telling me he was tired and he wanted to sleep."
He finally saw land and swam with the boy to a beach strewn with dead bodies. "I think the boy saved my life because I found strength so that he can survive."
Some expressed anger at the slow pace of rescue efforts but the country's defence chief, Voltaire Gazmin, denies being ill-prepared.
"How can you beat that typhoon?" he says. "It's the strongest on Earth. We've done everything we can."