The United Nations (UN) warned that the death toll in the Philippines from the Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) is the “worst” and deadliest recorded disaster in the history of the country. Government officials estimated that more than 10,000 people died, which exceeded the 5,000 to 8,000 estimated number of people killed during the Moro Gulf tsunami caused by a 7.9 earthquake in 1976.
“We are certainly expecting the worst. As we get more and more access, we find the tragedy of more and more people killed in this typhoon,” according to John Ging, one of the top humanitarian officials from UN. In a statement, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos stated that local officials estimated that at least 10,000 people died in Tacloban City alone.
On the other hand, UN refugee agency headed by Antonio Guterres is organizing an airlift in the Philippines to deliver blankets, mosquito nets, soap, and underwear and a team to provide protection against looting and mobbing of relief trucks in some areas. “The level of destruction we’re seeing reported is absolutely staggering,” said Guterres.
Pres. Aquino Declared National State of Calamity
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III declared a national state of calamity in the country, which allows the government to release emergency funds and to implement price controls. President Aquino assured that the help will reach the victims faster in the coming days.
He also requested the Filipino people to remain calm, pray, cooperate and assist one another to rise from the calamity. Pres. Aquino also deployed troops from the armed forces and police as well as armored vehicles in Tacloban City to prevent disorder as victims are becoming increasingly desperate for food, water, medicine and other consumer goods to survive.
Brigadier General Paul Kennedy, commanding general of the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade said the devastation was unimaginable. According to him, “Roads are impassable, trees are all down, posts are down, power is down…. I am not sure how else to describe this destruction.” He added, “I don’t believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way — every single building, every single house.”
Millions of People Affected, Plead for Help
Philippine government officials estimated that 9.7 million in 41 provinces were affected by the disaster. According to officials, 800,000 people were evacuate before the typhoon arrived, but many evacuation centers failed to provide protection because of the strength of the wind and the high level of the flood.
The Philippine National Red Cross said that people were not prepared for such strong typhoon. Gwendolyn Pang, executive director of the organization said, “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.”
One of the survivors named Erika Mae Karakot who was standing among the multitude of people waiting for aid told to reporters, “We need water and medicine because a lot of people we are with are wounded. Some are suffering from diarrhea and dehydration die to shortage of food and water.”
High school teacher Andrew Pomeda told AFP news agency that Taclocan City is “totally destroyed” and some people are losing their minds because they lost their families and from hunger. He added that people are becoming violent and looting businesses and malls for food, and he is afraid that hunger will led people to killing each other.
Another survivor, Roselda Sumapit tod CNN, “Right now, we don’t have enough water.” According to her, even if the available water is not clean, they still drink it. She said, “We need to survive.”