As officials continue to count the number of victims authorities in the Philippines they are also dealing with problems to help the survivors.
Super Typhoon Haiyan left as many as 10,000 people dead when it made landfall and stormed through six central Philippine islands on Friday, according to the latest projections, and now the country is working through other issues such as communication break downs, lack of supplies and mob rule in the streets.
The United Nations said it will employ critical relief operations in the Philippines – particularly around Tacloban City, the capital of Leyte province, which suffered much of the damage.
A Filipino resident reacts after getting supplies from a grocery that was stormed by people in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Sunday. The city remains littered with debris from damaged homes as many complain of shortages of food and water and no electricity since Typhoon Haiyan slammed into their province.
“Access remains a key challenge as some areas are still cut off from relief operations,” the UN office in Manila said in an e-mailed statement. “Unknown numbers of survivors do not have basic necessities such as food, water and medicines and remain inaccessible for relief operations, as roads, airports and bridges were destroyed or covered in wreckage.”
The UN World Food Program said Saturday it will increase its operations in the country after surveying the damage in Leyte and Samar provinces. WFP, the largest humanitarian organization in the world, estimates 2.5 million people will require emergency assistance and has mobilized an initial $ 2 million for its response. As they get more information on the need they will make an appeal for more donations.
“This is destruction on a massive scale,” Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, head of the UN Disaster Assessment Coordination Team, said in a statement.
Residents push a shutter to open a small grocery to get food in Tacloban city, Leyte province central Philippines on Sunday.
President Benigno Aquino traveled to Tacloban to view the aftermath. Many of the areas in the country cannot yet to be accessed so there are no official estimates of the impact, including casualties, in those regions, officials said.
The natural disaster destroyed between 70 to 80 percent of structures in its path as it tore through Leyte province on Friday, said police chief superintendent Elmer Soria told Tribune wire services.
TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images
Residents scramble for looted goods in Tacloban City, central Philippines on Sunday, three days after devastating Typhoon Haiyan hit the city Friday.
Those who did survive were left to forage for food and search for their loved ones.
“People are walking like zombies looking for food,” said Jenny Chu, a medical student in Leyte. “It’s like a movie.”
Almost 9.5 million Filipinos, roughly 9 percent of the nation’s population, were affected by the typhoon, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council agency said. The country had evacuated about 800,000 people to emergency shelters.
A resident carries boxes of milk as he passes by ships washed ashore by strong waves in Tacloban city, on Sunday.
The United Nations Children’s Fund estimated that 1.7 million children lived in the areas that were pummeled by Haiyan.
Relief agencies are setting up tracing services so residents can find the missing people.
Residents run out carrying food after storming a grocery shop in Tacloban on Sunday.
Complicating matters more is that relief efforts in the Philippines’s region are stretched thin, international agencies said. The region sustained a 7.2 magnitude quake in central Bohol province last month and victims’ displacement caused by a conflict with Muslim rebels in southern Zamboanga province.
“It is most important now to look after the survivors; we don’t want to expose them to the elements, get sick and add to the casualties,” Aquino said in a briefing in Manila Saturday. “It will be a second tragedy if we fail” in post-disaster management, he said.
Currently the country’s four airports remain closed
Residents in Tacloban carry relief goods along the bay.
In Tacloban, there are reports of looters ravaging many local stores as break downs in communication and roads have hampered the ability to provide food and water rations to the people. ATM machines were also broken open.
Mobs attacked trucks loaded with food, tents and water on Tanauan bridge in Leyte, said Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon.
A Filipino boy carries bottled water amongst the damaged houses where a ship was washed ashore in Tacloban on Sunday.
“These are mobsters operating out of there,” he said.
Aquino has sent about 300 soldiers and police to the city to stop potential looters. The president is also reportedly considering introducing martial law or a state of emergency in Tacloban to ensure security.
“Tonight, a column of armored vehicles will be arriving in Tacloban to show the government’s resolve and to stop this looting,” he said.
Tensions are reportedly high among the public and Aquino walked out of a meeting after furious survivors interrupted it to berate him for the authorities’ slow response to the disaster, according to The Telegraph.
Communications Assistant Secretary Rey Marfil later denied Aquino walked out of the meeting, but merely took a bathroom break, according to Rappler.
The storm is one of the worst in the recorded history of the region and had winds of 195 miles per hour with gusts of up to 235 mph. The typhoon did weaken when it hit land and is now traveling through the South China Sea toward South China and Vietnam – which has evacuated tens of thousands of people and is now bracing for the impact from the storm.
With Daily News Wire Services