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: Start a Career as a Financial Markets Trader

£40000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Become a professional Trader a...

Recruitment Genius: Software Implementation Consultant

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Recruitment Genius: Service Desk Co-ordinator / Client Services Administrator

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Warehouse Assistant

£14807 - £15470 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This manufacturer and supplier ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks