TACLOBAN, Nov 12 – US and British warships were deployed Tuesday to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines where well over 10,000 people are feared dead and countless survivors are begging for help in rain-soaked wastelands.
Four days after Super Typhoon Haiyan destroyed entire coastal towns in mostly poor central islands with record winds and tsunami-like waves, the magnitude of the disaster continued to build with almost unimaginable horror.
“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,” United Nations humanitarian operations director John Ging said.
The UN warned 10,000 people were feared dead in just one city, Tacloban, the provincial capital of Leyte province where five-metre (16-feet) waves flattened nearly everything in their path as they swept hundreds of metres (yards) inland.
Nearly 10 million people, or 10 percent of the Philippines’ population, have been affected, while 660,000 have lost their homes, the UN added.
Overwhelmed and under-resourced rescue workers have been unable to provide desperately needed food, water, medicines, shelter and other relief supplies to many survivors, and desperation has been building across the disaster zones.
“There is nothing here left for us. Our house is gone, we don’t have any money, we don’t have our documents, passports, school records,” Carol Mampas, 48, told AFP at Tacloban’s demolished airport as she cradled her feverish baby son in a blanket.
“Please, please, tell authorities to help us. Where is the food, where is the water? Where are the military collecting the dead?”
Dead bodies still litter the wreckage, while security concerns are building as gangs take advantage of a security vacuum to loot homes and businesses that survived the typhoon.
Heavy rain overnight in Tacloban compounded the survivors’ desperation, while a tropical storm to the south threatened other typhoon-hit islands where hundreds of other people were also killed.
An international relief effort has begun to build momentum, with the United States and Britain announcing they would quickly deploy warships carrying thousands of soldiers to the Philippines.