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.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital