Typhoon Haiyan: 'Every single building. Every single house. Destroyed' - Governments pledge millions, but the ruined city of Tacloban still waits

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Displaced and destitute survivors scatter the  streets of the ruined city of Tacloban – but the  aid they crave remains critically slow in coming

Asia-Pacific Correspondent

“It has been four days [since Typhoon Haiyan struck],” said Joan Lumbre-Wilson, a resident of the ruined city of Tacloban. “We want water and food … We are emotionally drained and physically exhausted. There are many babies and children who need attention.”

US military planes began flying supplies into Tacloban, on the island of Leyte, on Monday – the first sign of an escalation in the painfully slow relief effort. The massive storm surges whipped up by Haiyan destroyed roads, bridges and airports, hampering aid operations. Some of the worst hit towns and cities remain cut off from the outside world.

The typhoon, which was downgraded to a tropical storm on Monday as it entered China after crossing Vietnam, is believed to have killed at least 10,000 people on Leyte alone.

Threatening to further hamper relief efforts is a new storm approaching the southern and central Philippines. Government weather forecasters said the tropical depression could bring fresh floods to typhoon-affected areas.

“We continue to help around the world – as we are today in the Philippines where Typhoon Haiyan has wrought such appalling devastation,” Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday. “Britain is contributing £10 million and HMS Daring, currently deployed near Singapore, will shortly be heading at full speed towards the disaster zone with further support from an RAF C17 which will be a powerful help to the relief operation.”

Displaced and destitute survivors have been scavenging for food, and in some cases resorting to looting – although supermarkets are said to have already been stripped bare.

Exacerbating their distress are the bodies lying by the roadside, shrouded with scraps of material and decomposing in the fierce heat. While mass graves have been dug, many of the dead still await burial.

Eyewitnesses reported eight bloated corpses, including that of a baby, submerged in seawater near a naval base. Officers said they had no body bags or electricity to preserve the corpses.

Stories of survival and loss continued to emerge from the disaster zone. Mirasol Saoyi and her husband were “flushed” out on to the street by huge waves which washed away their home as the typhoon powered across the central Philippines last Friday.

“My husband tied us together, but still we got separated among the debris,” she said. “I saw many people drowning, screaming and going under … I haven’t found my husband.”

Marvin Daga and his ailing father, Mario, clung to each other inside their home as it was swept away. They floated for a while, then the house crumbled and they were propelled into the churning waters.

Marvin grabbed a coconut tree with one hand and his father with the other, but Mario slipped out of his grasp and sank. “I hope that he survived,” Marvin said. “But I’m not expecting to find him any more.”

A city of 220,000, Tacloban was almost flattened by Haiyan, with only a few concrete buildings still standing. After flying over the city in a helicopter, US Marine Brigadier-General Paul Kennedy said yesterday: “I don’t believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way – every single building, every single house.”

Among the towns yet to be reached by rescue teams is Basey, on the island of Samar, across the bay from Tacloban. The provincial governor said 2,000 people were missing there. Baco, a city of 35,000 people, is 80 per cent under water, according to UN workers, while an aid team from Oxfam has reported “utter destruction” in the north of Cebu island.

Although the Philippines had plenty of warning about the approaching storm, its scale – possibly the most powerful ever to make landfall – was not foreseen. Nearly a million people moved out of homes in high-risk areas, but many evacuation centres – schools, churches and government buildings – were unable to withstand the high winds and monstrous waves.

Among the islands to be hit was Bohol, which was recovering from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake last month. Aid agencies were already focused on Bohol, providing another reason  for the slow pace of relief operations in the typhoon aftermath.

Many of Tacloban’s survivors converged on the city’s shattered airport, waiting for aid flights to land. The airport was also turned into a makeshift hospital, where Emily Ortega, 21, gave birth to a baby girl on Monday. She survived the storm and flood by clinging to a post.

 

Video: Graham Mackay of Oxfam says the development charity has to stick to what they are good at and a support operation is currently underway

By default player size is set to 460 x 412px. But you can resize player width and height once you get the player code using player params.
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'