Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Typhoon Haiyan: Bodies rot as Philippines aid failing to reach survivors

Women cover their noses as bodies begin to rot
Women cover their noses as bodies begin to rot

Tens of millions of dollars in aid have been pledged for the typhoon-ravaged Philippines by the international community – but most has yet to translate into food, water, medicines and shelter for increasingly desperate survivors.

"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. Many babies and children need attention."

US military planes began flying supplies into Tacloban, on the island of Leyte, yesterday – 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.

The typhoon, downgraded to a tropical storm yesterday 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 Philippines.

"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 yesterday. "Britain is contributing £10m 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."

Destitute survivors have been scavenging for food, and in some cases resorting to looting.

Exacerbating their distress are bodies lying by the roadside, shrouded with scraps of material and decomposing in the heat.

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 waters.

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.

Baco, a city of 35,000 people, is 80% under water, according to UN, while an aid team from Oxfam has reported "utter destruction" on Cebu island.

WHAT NOW?

Aid agencies have launched a joint appeal to get food, water and shelter to victims of the devastating Philippines typhoon. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is made up of 14 leading aid charities. To make a donation to the DEC Philippines Crisis Appeal visit www.dec.org.uk, call the 24 hour hotline on 037 0606 0900, donate over the counter at any bank or post office or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000. The DEC appeal will go out live tonight on BBC, ITV, C4, Sky, Five and other broadcast outlets.

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