Rescuers faced blocked roads and damaged airports today as they raced to deliver desperately needed tents, food and medicines to the typhoon-devastated eastern Philippines where thousands are believed dead.
Three days after the Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the region, the full scale of the disaster was only now becoming apparent. Authorities estimated that up to 10,000 people may have died. In the city of Tacloban, corpses hung from trees and were scattered on sidewalks. Many were buried in flattened buildings.
“This area has been totally ravaged”, said Sebastien Sujobert, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Tacloban. “Many lives were lost, a huge number of people are missing, and basic services such as drinking water and electricity have been cut off,” he said.
He said both the Philippine Red Cross and the ICRC offices in Tacloban had been damaged, forcing staff to relocate temporarily.
Haiyan hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on Friday and quickly barreled across its central islands, packing winds of 147 mph that gusted to 170 mph, and a storm surge of 20 feet.
It inflicted serious damage to at least six of the archipelago’s more than 7,000 islands, with Leyte, Samar and the northern part of Cebu appearing to bear the brunt of the storm.
About 4 million people were affected by the storm, the national disaster agency said.
Video from Eastern Samar province’s Guiuan township — the first area where the typhoon made landfall — showed a trail of devastation. Many houses were flattened and roads were strewn with debris and uprooted trees.
The ABS-CBN video showed several bodies on the street, covered with blankets.
“Even me, I have no house, I have no clothes. I don’t know how I will restart my life, I am so confused,” an unidentified woman said, crying. “I don’t know what happened to us. We are appealing for help. Whoever has a good heart, I appeal to you — please help Guiuan.”
The United Nations said it was sending supplies but reaching the worst hit areas was a challenge.
“Reaching the worst affected areas is very difficult, with limited access due to the damage caused by the typhoon to infrastructure and communications,” said UNICEF Philippines Representative Tomoo Hozumi.