News / Asia

Emergency Work 'Overwhelming' in Typhoon-Ravaged Central Philippines

A ship lies on top of damaged homes after it was washed ashore in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines, Nov. 10, 2013.
A ship lies on top of damaged homes after it was washed ashore in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines, Nov. 10, 2013.
Simone OrendainVOA News
In the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines, emergency workers are trying to push their way through piles of debris to recover bodies and get aid to people who have been stranded without food and water. Officials expect the number of dead to be in the thousands.

Most of those deaths are in Tacloban, a coastal city of Leyte Province.  That is where Super Typhoon Haiyan first bore down on the country, leaving a trail of devastation across dozens of islands. 

​Thousands of houses have been reduced to rubble, while crumpled cars lie smashed into each other and splintered trees and power lines clog muddy ground.

Haiyan created a five-meter high storm surge that pounded Tacloban and left bodies tossed about in its wake.  The Philippine Red Cross said its people on the ground estimated more than 1,000 people have died there.

Related video

Emergency Work 'Overwhelming' in Philippinesi
November 10, 2013 1:59 PM
Local officials in the Philippines say the death toll in a central province that took the brunt of Typhoon Haiyan could reach as high as 10,000. Police and provincial officials provided the estimate Sunday after assessing damage in Leyte province where they say the destruction was overwhelming.

Red Cross Secretary-General Gwendolyn Pang said body bags have been ordered, but right now the priority was getting 45,000 food packs to the families most in need.

“People are impatient already because they want to feel, they want to see significant support already since today is already the third day since the typhoon,” said Pang.

The Civil Defense office said about 450,000 people were currently displaced.  Video footage from local news programs showed some residents looting grocery and other stores.

  • An aerial image taken from a Philippine Air Force helicopter shows the devastation of the first landfall by typhoon Haiyan in Guiuan, Eastern Samar province, central Philippines, Nov. 11, 2013.
  • Survivors fill the streets as they line up to get supplies in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines, Nov. 11, 2013.
  • A survivor writes a call for help, Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines, Nov. 11, 2013.
  • Survivors pass by two large boats that were washed ashore by strong waves caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines, Nov. 10, 2013.
  • A resident walks by remains of houses after powerful Typhoon Haiyan slammed into Tacloban city, Leyte province central Philippines on Nov. 9, 2013
  • Survivors assess the damage after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, central Philippines, Nov. 9, 2013.
  • Tacloban Airport is covered by debris after powerful Typhoon Haiyan hit Tacloban city, in Leyte province in central Philippines, Nov. 9, 2013.
  • Residents go on their daily business Nov. 9, 2013, following a powerful typhoon that hit Tacloban city, in Leyte province, central Philippines.
  • A fisherman carries his net after making it safely back to shore in the fishing village after a strong winds from Typhoon Haiyan battered Bayog town in Los Banos, Laguna city, south of Manila, Nov. 8, 2013. 
  • A man walks past a tree uprooted by strong winds brought by super Typhoon Haiyan that hit Cebu city, central Philippines, Nov. 8, 2013. 
  • A mother takes refuge with her children as Typhoon Haiyan hits Cebu city, central Philippines, Nov. 8, 2013.

Philippines President Benigno Aquino toured some hard-hit areas Sunday.  In contrast to the looting scenes shown on television, the president’s social media account posted photographs of residents in Tacloban waiting in line for relief goods with a caption saying they were “orderly lined up…”  Vice President Jejomar Binay also visited one island calling the typhoon a “national tragedy.”

The Red Cross's Pang said managing the crisis was an overwhelming challenge, even with some roads partially cleared.  Aid workers trying to bring in food and water supplies are struggling to communicate with each other.

The storm-battered provinces are contending with fallen cell towers and multiple power outages.  And some places like Leyte are completely in the dark.

A National Police chief superintendent, Vic Loot, flew from Manila to Cebu Province Saturday to check on his home in Daan Bantayan town in the north.  He and some emergency responders spent five hours cutting through fallen trees and electric poles with chainsaws just to get inside the town.

Daan Bantayan is Leyte’s main connection to the national power grid.

“Yeah, that is a very crucial point.  And we need the roads there for the technicians to come, for the repairmen… the area should be cleared,” he said. 

Loot said this point of the grid should be prioritized so power can be restored within 30 days, otherwise it could take about three months.

He said his house and nearly every single home in the town of 75,000 were severely damaged.

A number of countries have pledged monetary and humanitarian support to the Philippines. 

U.N. emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos said a U.N. disaster and assessment team has been deployed to Tacloban.

The United States is assisting with relief efforts.  In a Saturday statement, the Defense Department said the U.S. Pacific Command had been directed to assist in search and rescue operations, and aircraft support.

Also, a U.S. relief team has been deployed to the region.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) says the team will conduct damage assessments, track conditions and "advise on additional needs."

Weather agencies said Typhoon Haiyan was expected to hit northern Vietnam early Monday after moving northwest through the Gulf of Tonkin.  The storm also dumped heavy rain on southern China's Hainan island to the east, forcing authorities to cancel flights.

Vietnamese authorities have evacuated several hundred thousand people from coastal areas where the storm's outer bands are causing high winds and rough seas.

Courtesy Taiwan Central Weather Bureau

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Thuy Bui from: va beach
November 10, 2013 2:01 PM
I think It's karma for Its government row in South China Sea.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs