ALSO: Chaos, dead bodies on typhoon-ravaged streets of Tacloban City

Tacloban Airport is covered by debris after powerful Typhoon Haiyan hit Tacloban city, in Leyte province in central Philippines, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. AP http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2013/11/yolanda76.jpg


(INQUIRER) Agence France-Presse — The death toll from a supertyphoon that decimated entire towns in the Philippines could soar well over 10,000, authorities warned Sunday, making it the country’s worst recorded natural disaster.

The horrifying estimates came as rescue workers appeared overwhelmed in their efforts to help countless survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which sent tsunami-like waves and merciless winds rampaging across a huge chunk of the archipelago on Friday.

Police said they had deployed special forces to contain looters in Tacloban, the devastated provincial capital of Leyte, while the United States announced it had responded to a Philippine government appeal and would send military help.

“Tacloban is totally destroyed. Some people are losing their minds from hunger or from losing their families,” high school teacher Andrew Pomeda, 36, told AFP, as he warned of the increasing desperation of survivors.

“People are becoming violent. They are looting business establishments, the malls, just to find food, rice and milk… I am afraid that in one week, people will be dying from hunger.”

Authorities were struggling to even understand the sheer magnitude of the disaster, let alone react to it, with the regional police chief for Leyte saying 10,000 people were believed to have died in that province alone.

Residents pulling relief goods pass by dead bodies that lie on the street after powerful Typhoon Haiyan slammed into Tacloban city, Leyte province central Philippines on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. AP http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2013/11/yolanda-deaths.jpg

“We had a meeting last night with the governor and, based on the government’s estimates, initially there are 10,000 casualties (dead),” Chief Superintendent Elmer Soria told reporters in Tacloban.

“About 70 to 80 percent of the houses and structures along the typhoon’s path were destroyed.”

On the neighboring island of Samar, a local disaster chief said 300 people were killed in the small town of Baser.

He added another 2,000 were missing there and elsewhere on Samar, which was one of the first areas to be hit when Haiyan swept in from the Pacific Ocean with maximum sustained winds of 315 kilometers an hour.

Dozens more people were confirmed killed in other flattened towns and cities across a 600-kilometer (370-mile) stretch of islands through the central Philippines.

Deadliest natural disaster

The Philippines endures a seemingly never-ending pattern of deadly typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and other natural disasters.

This is because it is located along a typhoon belt and the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where many of Earth’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.

However, if the feared death toll of above 10,000 is correct, Haiyan would be the deadliest natural disaster ever recorded in the Philippines.

Until Haiyan, the deadliest disaster in the Philippines was in 1976, when a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake devastated the Moro Gulf on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, killing between 5,000 and 8,000 people.

Haiyan set other apocalyptic-style records with its winds making it the strongest typhoon in the world this year, and one of the most powerful ever recorded.

Witnesses in Tacloban recalled waves up to five meters (17 feet) high surging inland, while aerial photos showed entire neighborhoods destroyed with trees and buildings flattened by storm surges that reached deep inland.

“The effects are very similar to what I have seen in a tsunami rather than a typhoon,” the Philippine country director of the World Food Program, Praveen Agrawal, who visited Tacloban, told AFP.

“All the trees are bent over, the bark has been stripped off, the houses have been damaged. In many cases they have collapsed.”

In Washington, the Pentagon announced that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had responded to a request from the Philippines for military aid.

“Secretary Hagel has directed US Pacific Command to support US government humanitarian relief operations in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan,” it said.

“The initial focus includes surface maritime search and rescue, medium-heavy helicopter lift support, airborne maritime search and rescue, fixed wing lift support and logistics enablers.”

United Nations leader Ban Ki-moon also pledged that UN humanitarian agencies would “respond rapidly to help people in need.”

Ban is “deeply saddened by the extensive loss of life” and devastation caused by Haiyan, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky in a statement.

Haiyan moved out of the Philippines and into the South China Sea on Saturday, from where it tracked towards Vietnam.

Although it weakened out at sea, more than 600,000 people were evacuated in Vietnam ahead of its expected landfall on Monday morning.

‘We need to stay alive’ By Julliane Love De Jesus INQUIRER.net 1:29 pm | Sunday, November 10th, 2013

VIDEO: Tacloban in ruins in aftermath of 'Yolanda'

Tacloban City is reduced to vast wasteland after the onslaught of super typhoon "Yolanda." Video by INQUIRER.net's Ryan Leagogo

VIDEO URL: watch-v=jRq1u6oJPSg

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines–Whenever residents of Tacloban city look up in the sky and hear the rumble of military planes landing on the runway, they see a gleam of hope to live.

As one of the strongest typhoons in the country began wreaking havoc in Central Visayas on Friday, Tacloban was brought to knees.

“The devastation here is absolute,” Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told the reporters here after he and his group landed at the battered Tacloban airport. The C-130 military plane that carried Roxas also brought relief supplies and equipment.

Since the telephone network in Tacloban has been crippled, Roxas appealed to media to report to the world about the vast devastation in Tacloban as soon as they establish their communication links.

Mikan Santos lives several streets from the coastal airport in Sitio (sub-village) Cataisan. While she lined up to avail herself of medical services, she said that the only thing that they need to do was “to stay alive.”

A stranded passenger, who declined to be identified, said he saw the horror left by “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in the streets of Tacloban.

“It was like World War Z,” he told INQUIRER.net. World War Z is an apocalyptic horror novel and film depicting the world as it was being taken over by animated corpses or zombies.

“Everywhere we look, we see dead bodies on the streets,” the government employee said, who came to Leyte for a seminar but was unluckily greeted by Yolanda’s wrath.

‘Happy family’

The Isanan couple wanted nothing but to keep their four children together amid the storm’s onslaught. Now Marvin and Loreta’s brood was reduced to only one.

Marvin Isanan, a security officer at the Tacloban Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said he brought his family with him to the airport on Friday for shelter from the typhoon.

Residents in Bogo City look for any items they can salvage from the ruins brought by Typhoon Yolanda. CDN. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/524521/we-need-to-stay-alive/slide-yolanda5

But the next day, he found himself weeping as the bodies of his two daughters were recovered Saturday morning.

“I even kept a strand of my daughter’s hair. When she was found, we saw her hair tangled in the grills,” Isanan sobbed.

Isanan whipped out a wallet-sized family picture printed from a cell phone camera. ”Naglalaro pa siya nung kinuhanan ko siya ng picture, nilalabas pa dila niya (she was even playing with me and sticking her tongue out when I took this photo),” he said.

The remains of the Isanan children were brought to a chapel near the airport.

As if the strong winds were not enough, Tacloban endured storm surges that inundated the entire airport located near the coastlines. The flood reached the ceiling of the airport offices, drowning people inside.


While the smell of death was everywhere, hope emerged with the cries of a new born child. Close to the super typhoon’s local name, Riza Jaro will name her first baby girl “Yoonadale.”

The 18-year-old young mother and her relatives chanced upon a group of military rescuers carrying a folding bed.

Immediately it was used to carry her to a makeshift medical station at the airport where she went on labor.

Earlier, Jaro, a resident of San Jose in Tacloban, could not find a hospital to admit her for the imminent delivery of her first born.

Jaro’s mother said all hospitals, pharmacies and health centers were shuttered due to the massive destruction wrought by Yolanda to the town’s facilities and infrastructures.

Immediately responding to the expectant teen mother, a member of the military nurse corps placed Jaro’s bed over pile of papers covered in mud, calmed her down and administered dextrose on her right hand.

“Yoonadale” was not delivered at the Tacloban airport. The military personnel decided to airlift Jaro on one of the C-130 planes bound for Cebu.

Fearing the sunset

VIDEO: ORMOC CITY; CEBU: Smell of Death, scenes of despair after 'Yolanda'

Tacloban Airport is covered by debris after powerful Typhoon Haiyan hit Tacloban city, in Leyte province in central Philippines, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. AP

VIDEO URL: watch-v=5KfX4Ns0LV4

Roxas said once the sun starts to set, the people in Tacloban left homeless quickly seek temporary shelters.

Speaking to media early Saturday, Roxas said, “You have six hours of daylight left. Once the sun sets, you have to be in a secure place. There are no night lights working as of now.”

“Here you will not find barong-barong (makeshift) houses and typical dwellings, all of them were washed out,” he explained.

“You have to be very careful, you have to secure your own water, your own shelter and own food,” he said, pointing the dire scarcity of resources in Tacloban.

Detailing the magnitude of damage in the Leyte province, he explained: “Gutom ang tao, all the basic na ineexpect mo, pagbukas mo ng gripo na may tubig, pagsaksak mo ng cell phone mo may kuryente, ‘yung gripo may tubig, o kaya pagtawag mo sa pamilya mo at masasagot nila, wala lahat na ‘yon.”

As of Saturday, Roxas said restoration of power and communication lines might take some time.

He said the electrical engineers were having a hard time tracing the ends of cable wires providing electricity and cell site signals.

Chaos, dead bodies on typhoon-ravaged streets of Tacloban City By Jhunnex Napallacan Inquirer Visayas 4:15 am | Sunday, November 10th, 2013

A resident passes by dead bodies that lie on the street after powerful Typhoon Haiyan slammed into Tacloban city, Leyte province central Philippines on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. AP http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2013/11/yolanda8.jpg

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Dead bodies were everywhere in the streets of typhoon-ravaged Tacloban City and there was no way to start counting how many they actually were.

And as the city reeled from the shock of the unimagined strength of the typhoon and the storm surge that rose as high as a third-estory building – chaos ensued.

Looting and hooliganism was widespread and law and order broke down just hours after the city was hit by the typhoon.
Law enforcers and local government authorities were nowhere to be found, as they themselves were victims of the wrath of the supertyphoon.

Even the city mayor, Alfred Romualdez, “was holding on to his roof,” and had to be rescued.

All these were reported by phone to President Benigno Aquino III by Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas just minutes after he and Defense Secreatary Voltaire Gazmin landed at the Mactan Airbase in Lapu Lapu City, Cebu following a day-long survey trip to the the ravaged city of Tacloban on board a military C130 carrier plane.

“… Marami ang namatay dahil as we were walking and as we were going from place to place, may dalawa dito, may lima doon, may tatlo dito, parang ganun sir (There were so many who died because as we were walking ang going from place to place, there were two here, about five there, three here.. It was like that, Sir),” Roxas told Aquino.

“Even the mayor who lives in the barangay (village) near the airport was holding on to his roof, ang Mayor ng Tacloban si Alfred. Kami pa ang nag save sa kanya dahil na isolate sila (We were the ones who rescued him since they were isolated),” Roxas added.

Hours after the devastation of the airport, establishments and houses, people were seen looting stores, supermarkets and warehouses, according to Roxas.

He said looters were seen carrying a variety of goods, from food stuff to even a remote-controlled helicopter.

Some ransacked the warehouses of softdrink giant Coca Cola and water bottler Wilkins and justified the looting by saying they were very hungry, he said.

“All systems are down. We have no water, we have no power, we have no communication. This is the first time for us to use the cellphone,” he told reporters.

To control the situation, Roxas said he and Gazmin decided to send an augmentation force into the city since the existing troops were busy clearing roads and bridges of debris, especially the San Juanico Bridge and those going to ports and airport.

In Roxas City around 100 Army troops from Calbayog City and 180 policemen, including the 30 policemen from the Regional Public Safety Battalion in Cebu, were ordered to proceed to and restore order in Tacloban. They were expected to arrive in the city in the early hours of Sunday, he said.

Roxas said they also need to speed up the arrival and distribution of relief goods in order to help restore order.

Roxas said the National Food Authority (NFA) manager in the city had reported that they have 114,000 sacks of rice that, according to Roxas, he had ordered placed in the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which in turn would have them repacked into two-kilo packages for immediate distribution.

Roxas and Gazmin, while at the Mactan Airbase, were likewise briefed by Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command commander Lt. General Roy Deveraturda about the situation in the Visayas, based on an aerial inspection conducted on areas raved by supertyphoon Yolanda.

Deveraturda told Roxas and Gazmin that relief food packages totaling 170,000 and two water purifiers are on their way to Tacloban on board a Navy vessel and was expected to reach the city at around 6 a.m. Sunday.

Another Navy ship would leave Sangley Point in Cavite on Sunday for Tacloban bringing another batch of relief goods and water purifiers, Deveraturda said.

Two smaller aircrafts will also leave Tagbilaran City in Bohol on Sunday for Tacloban bringing 25,000 kilos of relief goods.
Roxas said military helicopters had actually been ferrying relief goods to Tacloban City on Saturday but these goods could not leave the airport area because they have to first clean up the debris that have blocked roads surrounding the airport.

Roxas said that their aerial inspection from the shoreline up to around 500 meters in the residential area, all the dwellings were washed out.

“The entire airport was under water up to roof level. Parang nagiging dagat ang buong airport, ganon kabilis pumasok and about an hour nag-recede naman,” he said.

According to Roxas, disaster preparations were put in place but it appeared that local authorities were not prepared for its magnitude.

Roxas told Aquino he could not give figure as to the fatalities because of poor communication and with many areas still inaccessible.

The President wanted to immediately visit the devastated areas but Roxas advised him to do it on Monday.

Roxas said he would be returning to Tacloban Sunday morning.

Deveraturda meanwhile said that based on initial reports, 16 people were killed in Eastern Samar alone.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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