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Typhoon survivors rally city: ‘We shall overcome’

  • ASSOCIATED PRESSPeople march in the rain Tacloban, Philippines during a procession to call for courage and resilience among their Typhoon Haiyan survivors on Tuesday Nov. 19, 2013. Countless families lost loved ones to the typhoon. Hundreds of thousands of survivors have endured unimaginable suffering. Tacloban was filled with hopeless, fear-filled faces. Even now, blackened bodies with peeling skin still lay by the roads, or are trapped under the rubble.  But as the crisis eases and aid begins to flow, hope is flickering. People smile, if only briefly, and joke, if only in passing.  (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    People march in the rain Tacloban, Philippines during a procession to call for courage and resilience among their Typhoon Haiyan survivors on Tuesday Nov. 19, 2013. Countless families lost loved ones to the typhoon. Hundreds of thousands of survivors have endured unimaginable suffering. Tacloban was filled with hopeless, fear-filled faces. Even now, blackened bodies with peeling skin still lay by the roads, or are trapped under the rubble. But as the crisis eases and aid begins to flow, hope is flickering. People smile, if only briefly, and joke, if only in passing. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

TACLOBAN, Philippines >> A Roman Catholic priest led dozens of displaced typhoon survivors on a march through this shattered city on Tuesday (Monday in Hawaii), seeking to boost its spirits.

The marchers sang “We shall overcome” as they toured parts of Tacloban, at one point skirting some unburied corpses in bags by the roadside.

The Rev. Robert Reyes, an activist priest known for running long distances across country to draw attention to social issues, said the marchers were living in a church and a sports stadium.

“This is not an ordinary march. We call it the walk to overcome,” said Reyes. “This is part of what we call psycho-social therapy where you listen to the victims of the disaster but you also make them believe that they can actually heal themselves.”

Typhoon Haiyan cut a path across eastern and central Philippines on Nov. 8, with some of fastest wind speeds on record. It killed or has left missing more than 5,000 people and displaced an estimated 4 million people. A major international relief mission is underway to help the survivors, many of whom will be dependent on aid for months to come.

The airport in Tacloban, which was almost entirely destroyed in the storm, has emerged as relief hub, with scores of aid flights arriving each day carrying food, water, medicine, generators and heavy lifting equipment. The pace has picked up markedly in recent days compared to the chaos in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

“It looks completely different to when I came in last week,” said Valerie Amos, the United Nation’s humanitarian chief. “I’m really delighted that so much progress has been made, so much more aid is going out, and the people are getting the vital supplies that they need.”

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