Super Typhoon Haiyan Devastates Philippines, Heads for Vietnam
A day after more than nine million people were affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines —with over 10,000 estimated killed — hundreds of thousands have now been displaced and are struggling without food and water Monday. One of the most powerful storms ever, Haiyan — also called "Yolanda"— hit the eastern coast on Friday, and has now made its way to North Vietnam, although in the weaker state of a tropical storm.
"This area has been totally ravaged," the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said of the hard-hit region of Tacloban. "Many lives were lost, a huge number of people are missing, and basic services such as drinking water and electricity have been cut off."
"The situation is bad, the devastation has been significant. In some cases the devastation has been total," echoed the secretary to the cabinet, Rene Almendras.
By Monday, 942 people were confirmed killed in the Visayas region, which includes Tacloban, but the death toll was expected to rise as the day goes on. “The trouble is in some western highlands there is no access so nobody can confirm these estimates," said the spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The devastation wreaked by the hurricane has left thousands without access to basic supplies, and many have turned to ransacking shops in order to eat. At least 630,000 people have been reported displaced, and Baco, a city with a population of 35,000, was left 80 percent under water.
“People are looting because they are hungry,” said the country’s police chief Alan Purisima. “The supplies we placed on standby were also washed away by the storm. Most of our police in storm-hit areas are either missing or affected.”
"There is looting in the malls and large supermarkets. They are taking everything, even appliances like TV sets. These will be traded later on for food," echoed Tacloban city administrator Tecson John Lim. "We don't have enough manpower. We have 2,000 employees but only about 100 are reporting for work. Everyone is attending to their families."
Many have jumped in to help with the situation.The Australian government is donating $10 million in assistance, and Japan and Singapore are both sending in relief teams, while China announced that it would donate $200,000 in conjunction with the local Red Cross. The World Food Programme has already airlifted 44,000 tonnes of high-energy biscuits — which are useful because they don't need to be cooked — to the disaster zone.
The good ol' U.S. of A. is also pulling its weight — the U.S. military has already sent out water, generators, and a contingent of Marines, as well as two U.S. C-130 transport planes to Tacloban.
"The United States is already providing significant humanitarian assistance, and we stand ready to further assist the Government's relief and recovery efforts," President Barack Obama said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions of people affected by this devastating storm."
The hurricane pummeled the eastern seaboard of the Philippines Friday, and has now already killed thirteen people in Vietnam. It's expected to weaken significantly before it reaches Southern China this evening.