Recovery Efforts Begin in Storm-Ravaged Philippines
(MANILA, Philippines) — Three days after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, survivors are wandering through the remains of their flattened homes searching for loved ones, food, water and medicine.
The storm has affected 4.5 million people and displaced 478,000, the United Nations World Food Programme said, citing initial estimates.
With reports of increased looting in Tacloban — a city in Leyte province that was crippled by the typhoon — a state of emergency has now been declared and a curfew has been put in place.
A total of 1,563 bodies have been counted in 10 of 40 towns of Leyte province, including the city of Tacloban, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council said on Monday, as search and retrieval for the missing and other victims continued.
In Samar province, Gov. Stephen James Tan said the death toll is more than 400, with 2,000 missing.
Authorities estimated that the death toll could reach 10,000 as rescuers survey areas hardest hit by the storm. With power and communication out for millions, it could take days, if not weeks, before officials in the Philippines learn the full extent of the damage and casualties.
The devastation and twisted piles of debris hampered rescue efforts and the ability to get aid to people for most of the weekend.
Richard Gordon, head of the Red Cross in the Philippines, said resources are now reaching people.
“Slowly but surely we’re getting in and we’re also clearing the area of debris so that our people can go in. We’re doing everything we can to get to the victims very, very fast,” he told ABC News Radio.
Gordon said he’s concerned about a tropical depression that could hit the Philippines some time this week.
“I just hope that the rains don’t linger because if the ground is saturated then we’ll have a problem with landslides,” Gordon said. “We may have another problem with floods. And it’s going to be hitting the same area.”
Agencies from the United States and other governments are racing to help the victims of the devastating typhoon. Team Rubicon, a volunteer group of military veterans and first responders, is sending a 15-member team from California to the Philippines to help victims. Incident commander for Team Rubicon Vince Moffitt says they’re focusing on the hard hit city of Tacloban.
“I think it’s going to be one of the biggest, most tragic events we’ve witnesses so far,” Moffitt told ABC News Radio. “Initial reports we received this is going to be a massive, massive destruction. Unfortunately, it looks like a lot of loss of lives. Complete catastrophic events.”
Annette Lynn of Save the Children told the BBC they’re working as quickly as possible to help the homeless.
“Quite a dire situation at the moment. …They have no home, they have no assets and they have nothing on them at all. They need food, they need clean water, they need electricity,” she said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio