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2 planes, 3,000 people: Misery in typhoon-hit city

By Jim Gomez & Todd Pitman

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 10:52 p.m. HST, Nov 11, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan photo galleries: Part 1, Part 2

TACLOBAN, Philippines >> When two Philippine Air Force C-130s arrived at the typhoon-wrecked airport here just after dawn Tuesday, more than 3,000 people who had camped out hoping to escape the devastation surged onto the tarmac past a broken iron fence. Only a few hundred made it aboard; the rest were left in a shattered, rain-lashed city short of food and water and littered with uncounted bodies.

Just a dozen soldiers and several police held the crowd back. Mothers raised their babies high above their heads in the rain, in hopes of being prioritized. One woman in her 30s lay on a stretcher, shaking uncontrollably.

"I was pleading with the soldiers. I was kneeling and begging because I have diabetes," said Helen Cordial, whose house was destroyed in the storm. "Do they want me to die in this airport? They are stone-hearted."

"We need help. Nothing is happening," said Aristone Balute, an 81-year-old who also didn't get a flight. "We haven't eaten since yesterday afternoon." Her clothes were soaked from the rain, and tears streamed down her face.

The struggle at Tacloban's airport is one of countless scenes of misery in the eastern Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan struck Friday. Only a tiny amount of assistance has arrived and the needs of the nearly 10 million people affected by the disaster are growing ever more urgent.

The official death toll from the disaster stood at 1,774 on Tuesday, though authorities have said they expect that to rise markedly. They fear estimates of 10,000 dead are accurate and might be low.

As local authorities struggled to deal with the enormity of the disaster, the United Nations said it had had released $25 million in emergency funds and was launching an emergency appeal for money.

Tacloban, a city of about 220,000 people on Leyte island, bore the full force of the winds and the tsunami-like storm surges. Most of the city is in ruins, a tangled mess of destroyed houses, cars and trees. Malls, garages and shops have all been stripped of food and water by hungry residents.

Most residents spent the night under pouring rain wherever they could -- in the ruins of destroyed houses, in the open along roadsides and shredded trees. Some slept under tents brought in by the government or relief groups.

Local doctors said they were desperate for medicine. Beside the ruined airport tower, at a small makeshift clinic with shattered windows, army and air force medics said they had treated around 1,000 people since the typhoon for cuts, bruises, lacerations and deep wounds.

"It's overwhelming," said Air Force Capt. Antonio Tamayo. "We need more medicine. We cannot give anti-tetanus vaccine shots because we have none."

International aid groups and militaries are rushing assistance to the region, but little has arrived. Government officials and police and army officers have been caught up in the disaster themselves, hampering coordination.

The USS George Washington aircraft carrier was expected to arrive off the coast in about two days, according to the Pentagon. A similar sized U.S. ship, and its fleet of helicopters capable of dropping tons of water daily and evacuating wounded, was credited with saving scores of lives after the 2004 Asian tsunami. The U.S. said it is providing $20 million in immediate aid.

Several other countries, including Japan, Britain and Australia, together have donated tens of millions of dollars. The United Nations said in a statement that its $25 million would be used to pay for emergency shelter materials and household items, and for assistance with the provision of emergency health services, safe water supplies and sanitation facilities.

"We have deployed specialist teams, vital logistics support and dispatched critical supplies -- but we have to do more and faster," said U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who was flying to the country.

Joselito Caimoy, a 42-year-old truck driver, was one of the lucky ones at Tacloban airport. He was able to get his wife, son and 3-year-old daughter on a flight out. They embraced in a tearful goodbye, but Caimoy stayed behind to guard what's left of his home and property.

"People are just scavenging in the streets. People are asking food from relatives, friends. The devastation is too much ... the malls, the grocery stories have all been looted, "he said. "They're empty. People are hungry. And they (the authorities) cannot control the people."

The dead, decomposing and stinking, litter the streets or remain trapped in the debris.

As many as 41 provinces were affected by the typhoon, known as Haiyan elsewhere in Asia but called Yolanda in the Philippines. It was likely the deadliest natural disaster to beset this poor Southeast Asian nation.

Authorities said they had evacuated 800,000 people head of the typhoon, but many evacuation centers proved to be no protection against the wind and rising water. The Philippine National Red Cross, responsible for warning the region and giving advice, said people were not prepared for a storm surge.

"Imagine America, which was prepared and very rich, still had a lot of challenges at the time of Hurricane Katrina, but what we had was three times more than what they received," said Gwendolyn Pang, the group's executive director.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III declared a "state of national calamity," allowing the central government to release emergency funds quicker and impose price controls on staple goods. He said the two worst-hit provinces, Leyte and Samar, had witnessed "massive destruction and loss of life" but that elsewhere casualties were low.

The Philippines, an archipelago nation of more than 7,000 islands, is annually buffeted by tropical storms and typhoons, but Haiyan was an especially large catastrophe. Its winds were among the strongest ever recorded, and it appears to have killed more people than the previous deadliest Philippine storm, Thelma, in which about 5,100 people died in the central Philippines in 1991.

The country's deadliest disaster on record was the 1976 magnitude-7.9 earthquake that triggered a tsunami in the Moro Gulf in the southern Philippines, killing 5,791 people.

Amos of the U.N. and Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario will launch an emergency appeal Tuesday in Manila for aid to help the almost 9.8 million people affected, the director of U.N. humanitarian operations said.

The storm also killed eight people in southern China and inflicted hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to farming and fishing industries, Chinese state media reported Tuesday.


Associated Press writers Oliver Teves and Teresa Cerojano in Manila contributed to this report.

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mikethenovice wrote:
Donations may not be able to bring back the lost of a loved one, but it will help in rebuilding the areas where the storm damaged.
on November 11,2013 | 04:07AM
allie wrote:
Beware massive and ongoing corruption and fraud in the Philippines. Make your gift through the USA government or to the Red Cross as i did.
on November 11,2013 | 07:19AM
retire wrote:
You may want to do a little research and find agencies or charities that or more economically efficient with the resources that are donated. The U.S. government and the Red Cross are greatly lacking in that category. Giving money to help is very necessary, just make sure does it some good and isn't squandered by bureaucratic ineptitude.
on November 11,2013 | 08:08AM
islandsun wrote:
Perhaps US money can be used to build fortified storm shelters since they are prone to cyclones and construction is mostly shoddy. American Filipinos can give aid to relatives there but for other Americans its hit or miss with all the corruption and fraud there. Maybe this disaster will enable them to rebuild properly and develop some kind of economy.
on November 11,2013 | 01:08PM
false wrote:
Maybe this might not be the appropriate time to bring this issue up but it should be a reminder to the people of the Philippines that the U.S. is always there in time of disaster. It's been quite some years now when the Filipino people were anti-Americans and put on demonstrations outside of the 2 U.S. bases. They wanted Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base shut down and Americans go home. Well, those 2 bases eventually closed down and left many filipinos without jobs and Americans did go home. Who was the first to respond to the Philippines disaster? The U.S. Regency for International Development brought in water and supplies. The U.S. military dispatched food, water, generators and a contingency of Marines to the city, the first help in what will swell into a major international relief mission. Did the U.S. receive any aid from other countries or Philippines during the disaster of Hurricane Katrina? To the people of the Philippines, never again should you put on a demonstration/protest and be anti-American towards a country that will always be there in time of need. So sorry for the destruction and the loss of property and thousands of lives.
on November 11,2013 | 06:15AM
allie wrote:
all true
on November 11,2013 | 07:16AM
pakeheat wrote:
Can't expect them to help others when they can't even help themselves.
on November 11,2013 | 09:22AM
Grimbold wrote:
For the Filipinos it is absurd behavior that they were anti-US. Why do they all want to come here then? And besides the bases were only helping them, and after the closing they live again in abject poverty.
on November 11,2013 | 10:11AM
localguy wrote:
It was a small, vocal, minority of Filipinos who wanted the USA out. While stationed in Saudi Arabia I talked with Filipinos working there. Many had better jobs at home working for us. Now they have to work in foreign countries for far less, years away from home.The grass isn't always greener next door.
on November 11,2013 | 10:34AM
Kapcity wrote:
All the Filipino's that I know and spoke to are pro Americans. As always, the out spoken minorities, or special interest groups always wins. Just like here in America.
on November 11,2013 | 11:18AM
allie wrote:
true..I admire what Filipinos did for Hawaii. They worked hard and pulled up their families by their bootstraps. Their hard labor replaced Chinese, Caucasian, Japanese, Portuguese and Korean labor on the plantations and they are the backbone of the tourist economy. I am grateful for their wonderful family values and their graciousness.
on November 11,2013 | 03:39PM
localguy wrote:
Actually the USA was offered foreign aid after the big storm hit New Orleans. European cruise lines offered cruise ships for temporary living. US Government said no and spent many times more in money on temp housing. Remember the contaminated trailers? Remember the semi trucks filled with ice just driving around the country? Fraud and abuse never ends.
on November 11,2013 | 10:32AM
rayhawaii wrote:
I heard a church in Tacloban wouldn't allow non-members in. This church could of saved hundreds because the building was solid, not that God was protecting it that it didn't get destroyed. Doesn't sound like what Jesus would do.
on November 11,2013 | 06:17AM
allie wrote:
on November 11,2013 | 07:17AM
walaau808 wrote:
You heard? How in the world could you have heard from that area?
on November 11,2013 | 07:33AM
localguy wrote:
rayhawaii - Your unsubstantiated post sounds like you are a rookie poster who believes in Urban Legends. Where is your reference for your post? Did you verify it or just spread another rumor? Rookies............
on November 11,2013 | 10:35AM
sanababeets wrote:
To everyone who is actively participating in packing relief goods for Yolanda victims, please note the following: 1. DO NOT PACK NOODLES OR ANYTHING THAT NEEDS WATER. There is no water and electricity so it’s difficult to consume this kind of food. 2. PACK MEDICINES. most especially basic medicines (biogesic, bioflu, robitussin, etc.) If possible, include medicine for surface wounds as many have been injured from fallen debris and rooftops. 3. PACK AT LEAST ONE BOTTLE OF WATER. People are in desperate need of potable water (some violent), There is no source of potable water for any part of Tacloban. 4. PACK CANDLES AND MATCHES. They are expecting to be without electricity for a minimum of 2 months. 5. ENCOURGAGE YOUR RESPECTIVE GROUP/ORGANIZATION TO DONATE BODY BAGS. Bodies are lying around roads within the city and some places are already filled to capacity with remains. I received this message from family in the Tacloban area and this is what is being requested. I apologize in advance if the grammar is not correct. The medicines listed above are specific to the Philippine areas. Please google if you are unfamiliar. Thank you for sharing and working together to help with the aid.
on November 11,2013 | 08:39AM
allie wrote:
thanks...good info
on November 11,2013 | 09:28AM
localguy wrote:
sanababeets - Support agencies do not need your food donations as they cannot verify they are safe to eat. Same with water. Better to donate money to buy a water filtration unit that can produce thousands of gallons of fresh water versus the time and effort for plastic bottles. And same with medicine, purity can't be verified if you send it. Let the experts do their job better if you give them money.
on November 11,2013 | 10:37AM
sanababeets wrote:
thanks for the info. I was just passing on information that my family sent over from where they are based on what they're dealing with. that message was sent by the medical facilities to their staff to forward to families and friends here. I am just forwarding it for those who are unable to reach their families due to lack of connectivity there and are preparing packages to get over to them. ANY support is appreciated.
on November 11,2013 | 02:10PM
Grimbold wrote:
Where are the bible toting religionists today? I am missing their ohsosane comments that God is punishing the Filipinos for something.
on November 11,2013 | 10:13AM
localguy wrote:
I took away one bible thumpers huge King James bible and thumped them into another world. Will help others see the light if I get a chance. :)
on November 11,2013 | 10:38AM
Alex57 wrote:
Notice the difference in the behavior of the people of Japan and the people of the Philippines when disaster strikes. Calm and orderly in the former, looting and disorder in the later.
on November 11,2013 | 09:22PM
awahana wrote:
No different from the USA.
on November 12,2013 | 01:04AM
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