WHERE IS THE FOOD? / SURVIVORS LEAVE THEIR DEAD BEHIND
A mother and her children cry after failing to take a flight on a C-130 military plane out of Tacloban City on Tuesday. Hundreds of residents are desperate to leave the city, which is running low on food and water. AFP PHOTO
TACLOBAN CITY, NOVEMBER 13, 2013 (MANILA TIMES) by BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON AND CATHERINE VALENTE
REPORTERS - TYPHOON Yolanda’s victims are slowly getting over their shock and disbelief at the enormous calamity that befell them, but they are beginning to get mad and desperate as they continue to wait for badly needed aid, particularly food and water.
Four days after a monster typhoon turned many towns into wastelands, thousands of people claim that they have not received help from government. Bodies of victims lying on roads have not been picked up, raising fears that those who survived the typhoon and gigantic storm surge may be felled by hunger or disease.
Hundreds of people camped out at the Tacloban airport, hoping to catch a flight out of the city which is fast running out of food and clean water.
Overwhelmed and under-resourced rescue workers have been unable to provide desperately needed food, water, medicines, shelter and other relief supplies to many survivors, and desperation has been building across the disaster zones.
“There is nothing here left for us. Our house is gone, we don’t have any money, we don’t have our documents, passports, school records,” Carol Mampas, 48, told Agence France-Presse at Tacloban’s destroyed airport as she cradled her feverish baby son in a blanket.
“Please, please, tell authorities to help us. Where is the food, where is the water? Where are the military collecting the dead?”
Heavy rain overnight in Tacloban compounded the survivors’ desperation, while a tropical storm to the south threatened other typhoon-hit islands where hundreds of other people were also killed.
While donations in cash and in kind continue to pour for the typhoon victims, the government is finding it difficult to bring relief to people in various communities.
A woman and her children head for an evacuation center November 8 amid strong winds in Cebu City, Philippines. PHOTO COURTESY OF CNN
AFP journalists in Tacloban described the city as a “ghost town”, with bodies still lying on the streets and those shops that were not destroyed boarded up.
Piles of debris, including wrecked homes and toppled trees, meant little food and medicine got through to survivors in the early days.
“That is why they were desperate and hungry,” hotel owner Kenneth Uy said, describing the immediate aftermath of the storm as “a descent into chaos”.
Police have said that some local councilors led the looting of shops to provide food to constituents.
To add to the distribution problems, armed insurgents attacked an aid convoy en route to Tacloban City.
The official government death toll stands at 1,774, although authorities have admitted they have not come close to accurately assessing the number of bodies lying amid the rubble or swept out to sea.
The advance US Marines expressed shock at the scale of the disaster after getting a bird’s eye view flying into Tacloban aboard C-130 transport aircraft full of relief supplies.
“Roads are impassable, trees are all down, posts are down, power is down . . . I am not sure how else to describe this destruction,” Brigadier General Paul Kennedy, the commanding general of the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, told reporters.
As thousands of people whose homes were destroyed by one of the most powerful typhoons on record spent yet another day in misery, troops established checkpoints to try to restore order and allow much-needed aid to percolate through.
In the city itself, a curfew was in force as armored vehicles and elite security forces patrolled streets where famished survivors had raided stores and ransacked other aid convoys.
Tacloban—a city of 220,000 residents—has been the scene of the worst pillaging. Survivors reported gangs stealing consumer goods including televisions and washing machines from small businesses.
Chief Superintendent Carmelo Valmoria told AFP that 500 of his Special Action Forces troops were in place.
“When we arrived here, there was looting everywhere in the city. We have come to restore order and ensure the public safety,” Valmoria said.
“We have been conducting checkpoints around the city everywhere and every night to prevent those who have no business (here) from coming in.”
Some have resorted to theft, with a charity saying that in one case a man with a machete tried to rob aid workers who were receiving a delivery of medicine.
It is not clear where newly homeless residents are meant to go during this period.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said that the public works department had cleared at least one lane of a highway entering the city, which would speed up entry of supplies.
He said the government’s three main priorities were to restore peace and order, bring in relief goods and start collecting dead bodies.
“Now that we have achieved number one and two, the priority is the recovery of the cadavers,” he said.
A woman comforts a crying relative as a plane leaves the airport during evacuation operations in Tacloban, Philippines, on Tuesday, November 12. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, laid waste to the Philippines. Officials say as many as 10,000 people may have died in the storm.PHOTO COURTESY OF CNN
Appeal for help
The United Nations on Tuesday launched a $301 million flash appeal for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.
According to the United Nations Action Plan, some 11.3 million people were affected in at least 36 provinces while 673,000 were displaced.
Valerie Amos, UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency, said that the “needs are huge” in the aftermath of the typhoon.
“The Philippines has seen so many crisis but in all accounts, this is the most deadly and destructive,” she said during the launch of the “Philippines: Haiyan Action Plan.”
The needs identified in the Action Plan are just the initial ones produced by the assessment made by the agency. Amos said the amount needed to rehabilitate the areas affected may multiply in the coming days.
“What we have done is to make an assessment of what the immediate needs are. I understand the assistance is coming in bilaterally . . . “ Amos said.
“In a few days, this is where we will act. Scaling up our efforts is the thing that is most crucial right now,” she added.
In its Action Plan, the UN identified the country’s emerging needs: the immediate priorities are food, water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter, medicine, debris clearing and logistics.
Assessments in the ground also revealed that the “most immediate threats to life” are the lack of safe drinking water, lack of shelter, trauma injuries, other acute medical conditions such as contagious diseases, disruption of treatment for severe acute malnutrition and for severe chronic disease, lack of sufficient food, lack of access to sanitation and personal hygiene items and lack of household items and supplies like fuel.
To enable “fast action” to address these issues, the UN identified key capabilities needed such as air and sea transport of relief goods and personnel, emergency telecommunication, temporary electrical power and fuel and debris removal.
The following shows the breakdown of the $301 million initially needed for the victims of the typhoon: $46 million for emergency shelter, $20 million for early recovery, $22 million for water, sanitation and hygiene, $25 million for education, $76 million for food security, $21.5 million for health, $12 million for child protection, gender-based violence, $5.5 million camp coordination and camp management, $7 million for nutrition, $31 million for livelihoods, $24 million for agriculture, $3 million for coordination and $4 million for emergency telecommunications.
Clothes dry on a line November 10 outside a Tacloban stadium used as an evacuation center.PHOTO COURTESY OF CNN
Many other countries have pledged help.
The UN children’s fund Unicef said a cargo plane carrying 60 tons of aid including shelters and medicine would arrive in the Philippines on Tuesday, to be followed by deliveries of water purification and sanitation equipment.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, was also organizing an airlift carrying aid including hygiene kits.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement also launched a global appeal for 87 million Swiss francs ($94.6 million) to assist the estimated 10 million people affected by the world’s strongest typhoon.
“It is a scene of utter devastation,” said Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon. “Many people have lost their homes, and are in desperate need of food, shelter and water. It will be a long road to recovery.”
The emergency appeal aims to assist the Philippine Red Cross to deliver essential relief to thousands of affected families.
Within the overall appeal, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appealing for 72 million Swiss francs to provide 100,000 families with food, clean water, shelter and other essential relief over a period of 18 months.
“Help must reach those in need as soon as possible,” said Jagan Chapagain, IFRC director for Asia Pacific. “The added advantage of the Philippine Red Cross is our vast network on the ground, coupled with strong support from all our Movement partners globally, which enable us to reach the most remote communities quickly.”
HSBC Philippines also donated over $1 million as it activated a bankwide relief and donations drive to provide aid to Yolanda victims and their families.
HSBC Group Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver on Tuesday announced an immediate release of cash assistance worth $1 million from the HSBC Group. HSBC Philippines is giving $23,000 from its local funds, while funds are also being raised by HSBC employees globally. Already, other parts of the HSBC Group have collected donations of over $60,000 in the past two days.
“We are deeply saddened by the devastation we have seen in the Philippines. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and we hope our donation and the efforts of our staff will go in some small way to making a difference to the communities that now urgently need help,” Gulliver said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines placed all flags in military camps at half-mast in sympathy with the typhoon victims.
Malacañang on Tuesday expressed its gratitude to the international community for the outpouring of support to the typhoon victims.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that at least 28 countries have pledged support for the ongoing relief efforts in the Philippines. Among the donors include Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Vietnam.
“The solidarity shown by many countries means a lot to us. Certainly it gives us comfort that we are not alone in this fight to rehabilitate affected areas in providing relief goods. And therefore we are very thankful for countries that pledged assistance to us,” he said. “It lifts our spirits. We know that many countries are willing to help us. It’s a big consolation for us,” he added. WITH REPORTS AFP AND WILLIAM DEPASUPIL
Survivors leave their dead behind November 12, 2013 10:44 pm MANILA TIMES
In the withered heart of the typhoon disaster zone, defeated survivors abandoned hopes Tuesday of a dignified burial for their loved ones and tried to flee aboard military planes.
Four days after Super Typhoon Yolanda slammed the Visayas, the worst-hit islands of Leyte and Samar remained largely cut off.
Countless survivors remained trapped in their devastated communities, with roads, bridges and airports destroyed, while paralyzed telephone networks and lost mobile phones meant most could not inform relatives outside they were safe.
A lucky few were being taken out for free by Philippine military cargo planes flying in and out of the barely functioning airport at Tacloban, the devastated capital of Leyte province where most of the deaths are believed to have occurred.
Maria Adelfa Jomerez, 58, was one of hundreds of people gathered at the airport hoping to hitch a ride out of their apocalypse, willing to walk away from the bodies of her son, his wife and their four-year-old son.
A resident passes victims' bodies on a Tacloban street November 9.PHOTO COURTESY OF CNN
Jomerez said she wanted to fly to Manila to join her daughter.
She left her grandson’s corpse under a tarpaulin at a devastated city hotel, where other bodies were being temporarily stored, while the bodies of her son and daughter-in-law were in a funeral home.
“I asked the mortuary to give my son and his wife proper coffins, but they told me their staff had not reported for work and that some of them were probably dead as well,” Jomerez said.
“There are no vehicles to transport them to the cemetery anyway… I would prefer that they not be buried in a mass grave, but I cannot do anything about that.”
Like the others at the ruined passenger terminal of the airport, Jomerez could do nothing but wait in the rain without any guarantee of getting on a flight.
The crowd included a group of children with handwritten signs hanging from their necks, saying “survivor”, placed by officials to ensure they received priority handling in the queue.
About 20 Philippine air force troops with rifles guarded the tarmac, preventing the people from rushing the planes that arrived intermittently, bringing relief supplies, aid workers and journalists.
About 150 people were able to get on one plane, including elderly and injured people in wheelchairs, but most of those waiting were not optimistic of getting out.
‘Every man for himself’
Jemalyn Lamberto, 38, the wife of an overseas worker based in Cyprus, stood in the queue and wept silently, oblivious to the rain, with her daughter, niece and mother-in-law.
“We were told to queue and not leave our positions. But when a plane arrived, it was every man for himself,” she said.
Lamberto said she was desperate to get out of Tacloban so she could call her husband, who did not know if they were alive, and also simply to escape the carnage.
“It is impossible to stay here in Tacloban. Everything is ruined. The dead are starting to stink. There is nothing to eat,” she said.
Meanwhile, in Manila, the grieving tide of desperation was turning the other way as frantic people who had not heard from missing relatives tried to get on board one of the military planes flying relief supplies into Tacloban.
Housewife Elsie Legaspi Damiles, 52, said she needed to get to Leyte to find out about her 28-year-old daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren.
If she got on the flight, Damiles said she would then take the 50-kilometer trip to Ormoc town where they live.
When told there were no vehicles going to Ormoc, she said: “I will just have to find a ride to Ormoc. Whatever is available. I will walk if I have to.”AFP
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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