herald

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Children burying dead in typhoon-ravaged city

Children carrying body bags. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
Children carrying body bags. AP Photo/Aaron Favila

CHILDREN are burying the dead in the Philippines as the country tries to grasp the scale of destruction left by the strongest typhoon in history.

More than 200,000 people live in Tacloban, the worst-hit area, where 90pc are now homeless.

Corpses are being put into body bags and buried in shallow graves to stop water contamination and many of the dead remain unidentified.

Irish priest Fr Aidan McMahon said millions of people were homeless across the dozens of areas where typhoon Yolanda hit and many towns had yet to be reached by aid.

The Herald visited the northern part of Cebu island yesterday where thousands of people are homeless as entire towns were flattened but no aid had arrived in many villages.

Suffering

Children walk the highways and roads begging for water and food.

They are without clothes in some cases and mothers wander the roads while breastfeeding their babies.

They hold up signs with "help", "water" and "food" scribbled on to scraps of wood.

Dozens of areas remain unattended as most efforts are focusing on Tacloban.

Eoghan Rice, who was on the ground in Tacloban yesterday with Trocaire, told the Herald that the situation was "almost indescribable". The suffering is "incredible", he said, as bodies still lined the streets.

Redemptorist priest Fr Aidan McMahon, who has lived in the Philippines for 35 years, compared the situation in Tacloban to the 2004 tsunami while another Irish priest, Fr Shay Cullen, is "greatly concerned" that orphaned children could end up in the sex trade.

Fr McMahon also reported that dead bodies littered the streets around his Redemptorist church in the devastated city.

Survivors cover their mouths and noses to avoid the smell of decomposing bodies in the 30C heat.

One woman gave birth in Tacloban three days ago and is trying desperately to get off the island of Leyte. Another family was torn apart when a mother and father lost their three children to the typhoon.

Aside from those fleeing the worst-hit parts others are flying in from their lives abroad in Dubai and Mexico to look for family. After nearly a week some are now giving up.

While the death toll is being revised downwards, the number of those now starving and homeless has gone into the millions.

Desperation has set in with looters robbing warehouses and insurgents attacking trucks on the road into Tacloban.

Despite reports of aid arriving, after one week many parts remain cut off from the world and are without food and water.

hnews@herald.ie

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