- The storm killed an estimated 10,000 people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
- Scale of the disaster, challenges of delivering assistance means few have received help.
- Responding to Catastrophic Super Typhoon
TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) – The day after Typhoon Haiyan struck the eastern Philippine coast, a team of 15 doctors and logistics experts was ready to fly here to the worst-hit city to help. On Tuesday, five days into what could be the country’s deadliest disaster, they were still waiting to leave.
Aid is coming to Tacloban: medical supplies, pallets of water and food piled on trucks, planes and ferries, sent by the Philippine government and countries around the world. But the scale of the disaster and challenges of delivering the assistance means few in this city, strewn with debris and corpses, have received any help.
A team from Médecins Sans Frontières, complete with medical supplies, arrived in Cebu island on Saturday looking for a flight to Tacloban, but hadn’t left by Tuesday. A spokesman for the group said it was “difficult to tell” when it would be able to leave.
“We are in contact with the authorities, but the (Tacloban) airport is only for the Philippines military use,” Lee Pik Kwan said in a telephone interview.
At the medics’ intended destination, thousands of typhoon victims were trying to get out. They camped at the airport and ran onto the tarmac when planes came in, surging past a broken iron fence and a few soldiers and police trying to control them. Most didn’t make it aboard.
“We need help. Nothing is happening,” said Aristone Balute, an 81-year-old who didn’t get on a flight out of the city. “We haven’t eaten since yesterday afternoon.” Her clothes were soaked from the rain, and tears streamed down her face.
An Associated Press reporter drove through the town for around 7 kilometers (4 miles) on Wednesday and saw more than 40 bodies. He saw no evidence of any organized delivery of food, water or medical supplies, though piles of aid have begun to arrive at the airport. Some people were lining up to get water from a hose, presumably from the city supply.
“There is a huge amount that we need to do. We have not been able to get into the remote communities,” U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said in Manila. “Even in Tacloban, because of the debris and the difficulties with logistics and so on, we have not been able to get in the level of supply that we would want to. We are going to do as much as we can to bring in more.”
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said relief goods were getting into the city, and the supply should increase in coming days now that the airport and a bridge to the island were open.
“We are not going to leave one person behind – one living person behind,” he said. “We will help, no matter how difficult, no matter how inaccessible.”
Doctors in Tacloban 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 for cuts, bruises, lacerations and deep wounds.
Video: UK sends warship to aid Philippines
David Cameron says Britain will deploy a Royal Navy warship and donate a total of £10 million to help the millions of people affected by the devastating typhoon in the Philippines.
Our prayers go out to all those hurting now in the Philippines. May God be a comfort to them.
Responding to Catastrophic Super Typhoon: