A grainy photograph of Maribel Maurillo Barton’s two sisters and six of their children — the youngest age 3 — huddled in a hotel room in the Philippines, mugging for the camera hours before Typhoon Haiyan struck, is the last taken of them alive.
Barton’s 15-year-old nephew Jason Lanorias managed to escape, "but the other seven perished in the storm," said her husband, Paul.
"It’s really hard looking at the pictures and their Facebook pictures," said Maribel Barton, 37, a Kapolei resident.
"It’s kind of chilling," added Paul Barton.
The eight fled their home in Tacloban in Leyte province, fearful the leaking sheet-metal roof might cave in, and ended up at a hotel, which they thought would be safer.
The Bartons can only guess what happened.
"We were thinking about the roof and the wind, but we didn’t really think about the water," Maribel Barton said. "They moved to a hotel made of concrete, but they didn’t think about the water. They were just right close to the sea."
She believes the water came flooding into their first-floor room.
"They probably drowned together," Paul Barton said.