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Typhoon Haiyan: Full extent of disaster still to be discovered

By Nichola Jones

No village or town along the road from the port town of Ormoc in southern Leyte to the provincial capital of Tacloban was spared by Typhoon Haiyan.

In Ormoc, the market, the port terminal and the shops and houses along the waterline have been wrecked by the winds that lashed the area, crumpling roofs, toppling power lines and leaving thousands homeless.

As our assessment team set off yesterday for the northern city of Tacloban yesterday morning, dozens of people were preparing to walk the 110km journey, some in search of missing relatives, others looking for medical assistance or food.

On the way to Tacloban, the scenes of devastation intensified.

Tacloban city itself is utterly destroyed. A police boat lies marooned on top of a heap of building debris close to the centre of the city where it was carried and dumped by the huge waves that swept through the area. Trees dangle from tangled phone and power lines. Flood water swirls in the streets, which are carpeted in twisted metal, mangled cars, piles of wood and home appliances.

One man I spoke to yesterday described the moment the storm surge swept through. He said three separate 3m waves pounded the area. When he heard the first, he picked up his mother and ran, carrying her, from the house. They both survived, but they have not been able to find out the fate of relatives living nearby.

The Philippine Red Cross is trying to register the missing and reunite survivors. They are working to find those people who are not living in evacuation centres but are instead bedding down in the shells of semi-destroyed buildings.

The organisation says there is an urgent need for medical supplies to help doctors cope with lacerations or broken bones, as well as diarrhoea caused by a lack of safe water. Food and water relief is critical here.

As the Red Cross and other agencies continue to carry out assessments in the coming days and weeks, the true extent of the disaster will become clearer.

Belfast Telegraph


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