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Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

A large typhoon struck the Philippines on Oct. 8, killing thousands and devastating the country’s infrastructure.

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PhilippinesTacloban, 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.”

typhoon2Tacloban, Philippines (CNN) — No food. No water. Houses and buildings torn to pieces. Bodies scattered on the streets. Hospitals overrun with patients. Medical supplies running out.

As Typhoon Haiyan barreled across the South China Sea on Sunday, getting set to bring more destruction to Vietnam, many Filipinos grappled with devastation on a level they’d never seen before.

The Philippine Red Cross estimated at least 1,200 people were killed by Haiyan, but the full death toll could be significantly higher as officials make their way to remote, nearly inaccessible places pummeled by the storm.

Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez told CNN it is “entirely possible” that 10,000 people may have died in the storm in Leyte province.

“People here were convinced that it looked like a tsunami,” Romualdez told CNN.

“I have not spoken to anyone who has not lost someone, a relative close to them. We are looking for as many as we can,” he said.

This is really, really bad, worse than hell’

Carrying all they could from their devastated lives, a steady stream of typhoon victims kept arriving at Tacloban airport, looking for food, water and escape.Social media helping in wake of typhoon

Magina Fernandez is among them. She lost her home and business. And she is desperate to leave on the next military plane.

She made an anguished plea for help.

“Get international help to come here now — not tomorrow, now,” she said. “This is really, really like bad, bad, worse than hell, worse than hell.”

She directed some of her anger at Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, who on Sunday toured some of the areas hardest hit by the typhoon, including Tacloban.

Many of the people in the city, population 200,000, are angry at the authorities’ slow response to the disaster.

Aquino told CNN’s Paula Hancocks that there was a breakdown, especially at the local government level.

“They are necessary first responders, and too many of them were also affected and did not report for work,” he explained, saying that contributed to the slow delivery.

Aquino said the government will coordinate with the local units and put more people to work.

Complicating the search efforts is the lack of electricity in many parts of the storm’s path.

The northern part of Bogo, in the central Philippines, suffered a blackout Sunday, and authorities said it will take months to restore power.

Children among the most affected victims

As the full impact of the typhoon is assessed, children are expected to be among the most affected.

Some 1.7 million children are believed to be living in the areas in the typhoon’s path, according to UNICEF.

“UNICEF’s first priorities are focused on life-saving interventions — getting essential medicines, nutrition supplies, safe water and hygiene supplies to children and families,” said UNICEF’s representative in the Philippines, Tomoo Hozumi, in a statement.

“This is not the first natural disaster to strike the Philippines recently, following the earthquake in Bohol three weeks ago, so we know how vital it is to reach children quickly.”

Devastation leads to desperation

It wasn’t the storm’s 250-kph (155-mph) gusts that caused most of the damage — it was a mammoth storm surge that reached up to 5 meters (16 feet) high.

Nearly half a million people were forced out of their homes, and now thousands have no homes to return to, the National Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

In Tacloban, the increasingly desperate search for food and water has led to looting. National police and the military sent reinforcements to the coastal city Sunday to prevent such thefts. News video showed people breaking into grocery stores and cash machines in the city, where there had been little evidence of authority since midday Friday.

Another desperate scene played out in the city’s only functioning hospital. Doctors couldn’t admit any more wounded victims — there wasn’t enough room. Some of the injured lay in the hospital’s cramped hallways seeking treatment.

“We haven’t anything left to help people with,” one of the doctors said. “We have to get supplies in immediately.”

Interactive map of the storm

Aid groups struggle to reach those suffering

The Philippine Red Cross succeeded in getting its assessment team into Tacloban, but had not managed to get its main team of aid workers and equipment to the city, said its chairman, Richard Gordon.

“We really are having access problems,” he said.

The city’s airport was shut to commercial flights, and it would be three days before a land route was open, so organizers were considering chartering a boat for the trip, which will take 1½ to 2 days, he said. “It really is an awful, awful situation.”

World Food Programme spokeswoman Bettina Luescher said the U.N. group was gearing up its global resources to send enough food to feed 120,000 people.

“These high-energy biscuits will keep them alive,” she said.

She noted that much of the country’s infrastructure — roads, bridges, airports, ports — may have been destroyed or damaged and that the government could use help with logistics.

Most of Cebu province couldn’t be contacted by landlines, cell phones or radio, Dennis Chiong, operations officer for the province’s disaster risk and emergency management, said Saturday.

One inaccessible town, Daanbantayan, has more than 3,000 residents who “badly need food, water and shelter because most of the houses there are damaged due to the storm,” Chiong said.

In the town of Santa Fe in Cebu province, officials could not determine the number of fatalities because roads were washed out and phone services down.

Luescher pleaded for financial support from the international community and directed those wishing to donate to wfp.org/typhoon.

“Those are families like you and me, and they just need our help right now,” she said.

Philippines gets more than its share of disasters

Catastrophic destruction

The destruction across the islands was catastrophic and widespread. For a time, storm clouds covered the entire Philippines, stretching 1,120 miles (1800 kilometers) — the distance between Florida and Canada — and tropical storm-force winds covered an area the size of Germany.

Veteran storm chaser James Reynolds said Haiyan was “without a doubt the most catastrophic event I’ve witnessed before my eyes.”

“During the height of the storm, the scream of the wind was deafening,” said Reynolds, who hunkered down in a solidly built hotel.

“We could hear just thunderous crashes of debris flying through the air. At some points, you could feel the whole hotel, which was made of solid concrete, shaking.”

Vietnam braces for hit

The massive losses in the Philippines have put much of Vietnam on edge. The Vietnam Red Cross said it had helped authorities evacuate 100,000 people, including elderly residents and orphans, as the typhoon neared.

Midday Sunday, Haiyan was plowing through the South China Sea with sustained winds of 160 kph (100 mph) and gusts of 195 kph (120 mph). It was expected to slam into Vietnam by Monday morning.

By that time, the typhoon could weaken to a tropical storm. But it’s still expected to cause heavy rain and flooding in Hanoi, the Red Cross said. Forecasters predicted up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) of rain for parts of northern Vietnam near the border with China by Monday night.

With the latest projected storm path, the designated disaster area could grow from nine provinces to 15, the Vietnam Red Cross said.

An enormous blow

Haiyan may be the strongest tropical cyclone in recorded history, but meteorologists said it will take further analysis to confirm whether it set a record.

The typhoon was 3.5 times more forceful than Hurricane Katrina, which hit the United States 2005.

But Haiyan’s wrath has caused much more than tremendous loss of life and epic destruction — it’s also ruined the livelihoods of many survivors.

“This disaster on such a scale will probably have us working for the next year,” said Sandra Bulling, international communications officer for the aid agency CARE. “Fishermen have lost their boats. Crops are devastated. This is really the basic income of many people.”

PhilippinesTacloban, Philippines (CNN) — A day after Super Typhoon Haiyan roared into the Philippines, officials predicted that the death toll could reach 1,200 — or more.

“We estimate 1,000 people were killed in Tacloban and 200 in Samar province,” Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, said of two coastal areas where Haiyan hit first as it began its march Friday across the archipelago.

The Red Cross said it would have more precise numbers Sunday. But experts predicted that it will take days to get the full scope of the damage wrought by a typhoon described as one of the strongest to make landfall in recorded history.

“Probably the casualty figure will increase as we get more information from remote areas, which have been cut off from communications,” said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF’s Philippines representative.

The casualties from the storm, which affected 4.3 million people in 36 provinces, occurred despite preparations that included the evacuation of more than 800,000 people, he said.

On Saturday, more than 330,000 people were still in 1,223 evacuation centers, and the government had accepted a U.N. offer of international aid.

Tacloban hardest hit

Tacloban suffered the greatest devastation, said Lt. Jim Aris Alago, information officer for Navy Central Command. “There are numbers of undetermined casualties found along the roads.”

Officials found more than 100 bodies scattered on the streets of the coastal city.

“We expect the greatest number of casualties there,” Alago said, adding that 100 body bags had been sent to the area. People were wading through waist-high water, and overturned vehicles, downed utility poles and trees were blocking roads and delaying the aid effort.

Mobile services were down, and officials were relying on radios.

Another 100 residents in this city of 220,000 residents were injured, said Capt. John Andrews, deputy director of the national Civil Aviation Authority.

Roofs and windows were blown off and out of many of the buildings left standing. Rescue crews were handing out ready-to-eat meals, clothing, blankets, medicine and water, Alago said.

But the speed of the storm — which was clocked at 41 mph — meant residents didn’t have to hunker down long. Many emerged Saturday from their homes and shelters and trekked through streets littered with debris to supermarkets, looking for water and food. Several bodies were found at a chapel; a woman wept over one.

The Philippine Red Cross succeeded in getting its assessment team in to Tacloban but had not managed to get its main team of aid workers and equipment to the city, said Philippine National Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon.

“We really are having access problems,” he said.

The city’s airport was shut, and it would be three days before a land route was open, so organizers were considering chartering a boat for the 1½-to-2-day trip, he said.

“It really is an awful, awful situation.”

Tacloban is the largest city in the Eastern Visayas Islands. It was an important logistical base during World War II and served as a temporary capital of the Philippines.

Philippines gets more than its share of disasters

Catastrophic destruction

The destruction across the islands was catastrophic and widespread. For a time, storm clouds covered the entire Philippines, stretching 1,120 miles — the distance between Florida and Canada — and tropical storm-force winds covered an area the size of Germany.

The typhoon first struck before dawn on Friday on the country’s eastern island of Samar, flooding streets and knocking out power and communications in most of Eastern Visayas region.

Powered by 195-mph winds and gusts up to 235 mph, it then struck near Tacloban and Dulag on the island of Leyte, flooding the coastal communities.

“It is like a tsunami has hit here,” CNN’s Paula Hancocks said from Tacloban.

Many islands hit

Haiyan continued its march, barreling into five other Philippine islands before its wind strength dropped Saturday to 130 mph and it lost its super typhoon designation.

On Friday, the Red Cross had more than 700,000 people in evacuation centers, but some of those proved no match for the storm, the Red Cross’ Gordon said. “People died there as well.”

Meteorologists predicted that Haiyan would weaken to a minimal typhoon or a tropical storm before making landfall Monday morning in northern Vietnam between Hanoi and Vinh. Up to 12 inches of rain were forecast for portions of northern Vietnam near the border with China by Monday night.

By late Saturday, Philippine military helicopters were taking surveys of the disaster; it took relief workers from Manila up to 18 hours to reach the worst-hit isles.

Super Typhoon Haiyan packed a wallop on Philippine structures that was 3.5 times more forceful than the United States’ Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which directly or indirectly killed 1,833 people. At $108 billion, it was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

Haiyan may be the strongest tropical cyclone in recorded history, though meteorologists said it will take further analysis to establish whether it is a record.

Cut-off communities

Most of Cebu province couldn’t be contacted by landlines, cell phones or radio, Dennis Chiong, operations officer for the province’s disaster risk and emergency management, said Saturday.

One inaccessible town, Daanbantayan, has more than 3,000 residents who “badly need food, water and shelter because most of the houses there are damaged due to the storm,” Chiong said.

In the town of Santa Fe in Cebu province, officials could not determine the number of fatalities because roads were washed out and phone services down.

Defenseless against the storm’s might

One major concern was the typhoon’s impact on Bohol Island, where 350,000 people had been living in tents and temporary shelters since last month’s earthquake, said Joe Curry of Catholic Relief Services.

But he said he was concerned about other areas, too.

“There are a lot of rural areas, a lot of small islands that are affected,” Curry said. “We don’t know how they can protect themselves from a typhoon of this strength.”

Clarson Fruelda of Cebu City said residents were cleaning up dirt, leaves, coconuts and tree branches from their homes.

“The winds were the strongest that I felt in more than 20 years,” Fruelda said. “These past few weeks were really tough for my wife and I and probably for Cebuanos as well since it was just a few weeks ago when we were hit by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.”

MANILA (CNN) — More than 100 people were killed in a major Philippine coastal city that took the brunt of Super Typhoon Haiyan, authorities said Saturday.

typhoon2That death toll in Tacloban was the first significant casualty report in a day when authorities began surveying the devastation of a typhoon that has been described as perhaps the strongest storm ever to make landfall in recorded history.

Capt. John Andrews, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, told CNN that he received a radio report from the Tacloban airport station manager who said there are more than 100 bodies in the street in Tacloban and more than 100 people injured.

In a separate report earlier Saturday, as reports began coming in to authorities, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council indicated at least four people were killed. At least seven people were hurt, and four people were missing, the council also said Saturday.

The destruction is expected to be catastrophic. Storm clouds covered the entire Philippines, stretching 1,120 miles — equal to a distance between Florida and Canada. The deadly wind field, or tropical storm force winds, covered an area the size of Montana or Germany.

The typhoon first roared onto the country’s eastern island of Samar at 4:30 a.m. Friday, flooding streets and knocking out power and communications in many areas of the region of Eastern Visayas, and then continued its march, barreling into five other Philippine islands.

Then, predawn Saturday, it headed toward Vietnam.

Haiyan weakened Saturday and was no longer a super typhoon, rather a typhoon with sustained winds of 130 mph. But the storm could return to super typhoon status Saturday. The center of Haiyan will land again Sunday morning near the Vietnamese cities of Da Nang and Hue.

Philippine military helicopters were scheduled to take aerial surveys of the damage Saturday. Relief agencies in Manila were expected to begin traveling as long as 18 hours to reach the worst hit isles. Meanwhile, Haiyan was over the South China Sea on Saturday.

While delivering 195 mph winds with gusts reaching even 235 mph, Haiyan first landed near Dulag and Tacloban, flooding those coastal communities with a surge of water rising 40 to 50 feet, said CNN’s Chad Myers.

Tacloban is the largest city in the Eastern Visayan Islands and was an important Allied logistical base during World War II, even serving as a temporary capital of the Philippines. But on Saturday, Tacloban was considered as among the areas worst hit by Haiyan, and authorities and relief agencies had no immediate information about its condition.

For purposes of comparison, Super Typhoon Haiyan packed a wallop on Philippine structures 3.5 times more forceful than the United States’s Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which directly or indirectly killed 1,833 people and was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history at $108 billion, Myers said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said America stood ready to help the Asian nation.

“Having so recently had my own visit to the Philippines prevented by another powerful storm, I know that these horrific acts of nature are a burden that you have wrestled with and courageously surmounted before. Your spirit is strong,” Kerry said.

The Philippine Coast Guard reported 3,398 people were stranded on multiple watercraft early Saturday morning.

 

Weather
11/08/13

Super typhoon may be Earth’s biggest storm

PHILIPPINES — Super Typhoon Haiyan — perhaps the strongest storm ever — plowed across the central Philippines on Friday, leaving widespread devastation.

PhilippinesIt roared onto the country’s eastern island of Samar at 4:30 a.m., flooding streets and knocking out power and communications in many areas of the region of Eastern Visayas, and then continued its march, barreling into five other Philippine islands as it moved across the archipelago.

At least three people were killed and seven hurt, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Friday.

The state-run Philippines News Agency, citing unconfirmed TV reports, said “around 20″ people drowned after a storm surge struck Friday morning in Palo, a town on the island of Leyte, which abuts Samar.

“Most of the fatalities sustained massive injuries in the head and upper part of the body, indicative that strong waves dashed them against hard objects,” it reported, adding that nine of the dead were minors.

Experts predicted the casualty toll would soar once aid workers get to the hardest-hit areas.

About 125,000 people took refuge in evacuation centers, and hundreds of flights were canceled.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

MANILA (CNN) — With 25 million people in its path, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever observed, Super Typhoon Haiyan, made landfall Friday morning in the Philippines, the country’s weather service reported.

typhoonAt least three people, including a 1-year-old, were killed. The infant and another person were hit by tornado debris in Cotabato province, the country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

In Cebu, a woman died when she was hit by a falling coconut tree, according to the provincial government of Cebu.

Tens of thousands of people in vulnerable areas of the central Philippines were evacuated earlier as the monster storm spun toward the islands.

With sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph), Haiyan was likely the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall anywhere in the world in recorded history. It will take further analysis after the storm passes to determine exactly if it is a record.

Its wind strength makes it equivalent to an exceptionally strong Category 5 hurricane. A “super typhoon” has surface winds that sustain speeds of more than 240 kph (150 mph) for at least a minute, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Haiyan will move over the many islands of the central Philippines during Friday and part of Saturday before exiting into the South China Sea. The storm will weaken slightly as it crosses land, but forecasters with the Philippine weather agency, Pagasa, predict that it will maintain super-typhoon intensity throughout its passage of the islands.

typhon1The storm, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, is so large in diameter that clouds from it are affecting two-thirds of the country, which stretcges over 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles).

The provincial governor of Southern Leyte, Roger Mercado, said more than 30,000 people had evacuated their homes.

In a speech Thursday, President Benigno S. Aquino III warned residents of the “calamity our countrymen will face in these coming days.”

“Let me repeat myself: This is a very real danger, and we can mitigate and lessen its effects if we use the information available to prepare,” he said.

The government has three C-130 cargo aircraft ready to respond, as well as 32 planes and helicopters from the air force, the president said.

Officials have placed relief supplies in the areas that are expected to get hit, Aquino said.

“The effects of this storm can be eased through solidarity,” he said.

As it moves across heavily populated areas of the central Philippines, Haiyan’s high winds and torrential rain are expected to affect more than 25 million people. The storm system had a diameter of about 800 kilometers (500 miles) as of Friday.

Pagasa warned more than 30 provinces across the country Thursday to be prepared for possible flash floods and landslides.

Schools in many areas canceled classes, emergency services were put on high alert, and airlines canceled flights.

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