Tacloban, Philippines (CNN) — Survivors root through the splintered wreckage of their homes searching for loved ones who may be buried beneath. Others are scrambling to find food and water in areas littered with corpses.
Three days after Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, scythed across the central Philippines, people here are struggling to grasp the enormity of what they have lost and the challenges they still face.
The storm, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, has left devastation on a monumental scale in its wake.
Thousands of houses have been obliterated. Many areas are still cut off from transport, communications and power. Some officials say that as many as 10,000 people may have been killed.
“There are too many people dead,” said Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. “We have bodies in the water, bodies on the bridges, bodies on the side of the road.”
And amid the carnage, hundreds of thousands of survivors are trying to cope with a lack of water, food, shelter and medicine. Aid workers and government officials are battling to get emergency supplies to hard hit areas, which have been cut off by fallen trees and power lines.
‘Worse than hell’
In Tacloban, a city of more than 200,000 inhabitants that suffered a catastrophic blow from the typhoon, dead bodies still lay by the side of the road Monday.
Some had been covered by sheets or tarpaulins. But others still lay as they had fallen, a look of horror frozen on their faces.
Aid workers are worried that the grim abundance of corpses will create health risks for desperate survivors, who are drinking water from underground wells without knowing if it’s been contaminated.
Magina Fernandez, one of many survivors who were trying to get out of Tacloban at the city’s crippled airport at the weekend, described the situation there as “worse than hell.”
“Get international help to come here now — not tomorrow, now,” she said, directing some of her anger at Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, who on Sunday toured some of the hardest-hit areas.
Tacloban was shattered by Haiyan, whose tremendous force brought a wall of water roaring off the Gulf of Leyte. The storm surge leveled entire neighborhoods of wooden houses and flung large ships ashore like toys.
“I have not spoken to anyone who has not lost someone, a relative close to them,” said the city’s mayor, Alfred Romualdez, who narrowly escaped death during the storm’s fury. “We are looking for as many as we can.”