12 Nov 2013

Philippines typhoon damage 'unprecedented'

10:08 pm on 12 November 2013

Typhoon victims in the Philippines are facing thunderstorms and torrential rain just days after Haiyan flattened vast areas killing at least 10,000 people in a storm described as unprecedented.

Four million people are thought to have been affected by the massive storm and 10,000 people are believed to have been killed in the city of Tacloban in the province of Leyte alone after huge waves swept away coastal villages on Friday.

A United Nations humanitarian official described the scale of damage in the Philippines caused by Haiyan as massive and unprecedented. John Ging said 660,000 people fled their homes because of the storm and the UN will appeal for significant international aid for victims.

Devastated communities without food, water and medicines are showing desperation after one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded flattened entire towns and left countless bodies scattered across wastelands.

People in Tacloban woke up to just what they didn't need on Tuesday - more driving rain. With provisions running low, everyone says that food is their main concern.

A BBC correspondent said he saw families straining filthy water through T-shirts to try and remove the dirt and there is a real risk of diseases like dysentery spreading quickly.

American and Philippine military cargo planes arrived on Monday with relief supplies, but the damage to roads and other infrastructure is causing problems getting aid out of the airport.

On the streets, there is little sign of any aid getting to those in need. Four days after the typhoon struck, people are asking when help is coming. For now, they are fending for themselves as best they can.

One survivor said people are emotionally drained and physically exhausted, with many children and babies needing food and care.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has declared a state of national calamity to speed up relief efforts for the victims, and deployed hundreds of soldiers in Tacloban to quell looting after mobs ransacked a Red Cross aid convoy on Sunday and gangs roamed the streets stealing consumer goods such as televisions.

Mr Aquino said the two worst affected provinces, Leyte and Samar, have suffered massive destruction and loss of life. Aerial photos of Samar island, where Haiyan first made landfall, showed whole districts of coastal towns reduced to piles of splintered wood.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the UN would launch a large-scale humanitarian plan on Tuesday and called for member states to show solidarity with the people of the Philippines.

About $100 million in emergency assistance has so far been pledged by several countries, including America and New Zealand. The UN has channelled more than $25 million, with UNICEF airlifting 66 tonnes of emergency supplies from Copenhagen including water purification systems, storage equipment and sanitation supplies.

A spokesperson for World Vision in the Phillipines, G. Jeff Lamigo, told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Tuesday the agency has been able to get some staff into the devastated towns, but they can't communicate with them.

Mr Lamigo said World Vision hopes more communication lines can be opened later in the week so the agency can reach more people and establish the level of help needed.

Haiyan swept out into the South China Sea on Saturday and hit Vietnam and China on Monday in a significantly weakened state, although it was still strong enough to uproot trees and tear roofs off hundreds of homes.