herald

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Typhoon death toll put at 10,000 in disaster zone

Dazed survivors of a super-typhoon that swept through the Philippines killing an estimated 10,000 people begged for help and scavenged for food, water and medicine today, threatening to overwhelm military and rescue resources.

As President Benigno Aquino deployed hundreds of soldiers in the coastal city of Tacloban to quell looting, reports from one town showed apocalyptic scenes of destruction in another region that has not been reached by rescue workers or the armed forces.

The government has not confirmed officials' estimates over the weekend of 10,000 deaths, but the toll from Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, is clearly far higher than the current official count of 255. The armed forces in the central Philippines yesterday reported a death toll of 942.

"The situation is bad, the devastation has been significant. In some cases the devastation has been total," Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras told a news conference. The United Nations said officials in Tacloban, which bore the brunt of the storm on Friday, had reported one mass grave of 300 to 500 bodies.

More than 600,000 people were displaced by the storm across the country and some have no access to food, water, or medicine, the UN said.

Flattened by surging waves and monster winds of up to 235mph, Taclo-ban, 360 miles southeast of Manila, was relying almost entirely for supplies and evacuation on just three military transport planes flying from nearby Cebu city.

Dozens of residents clamoured for help at the airport gates.

"Help us, help us. Where is President Aquino? We need water, we are very thirsty," shouted one woman. "When are you going to get bodies from the streets?"

Haiyan is estimated to have destroyed about 70 to 80pc of structures in its path as it tore into the coastal provinces of Leyte and Samar.

Most of the damage and deaths were caused by the monster waves that swept away coastal entire villages in scenes that officials likened to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

A US Marine general said he saw bodies everywhere during a helicopter flight over the region early today.

Speaking after a two-hour flight with Filipino forces, Brig Gen Paul Kennedy said every building and house he saw was destroyed or severely damaged.

FLOATING

"We saw bodies everywhere," he said. "Some were floating in the water, others in a schoolyard."

He said trees were uprooted for miles around, roads were impassable and power lines were down.

Meanwhile, 13 people were killed and dozens hurt during storms in Vietnam as Haiyan approached the coast.

hnews@herald.ie

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