Typhoon Haiyan Aftermath 'Worse Than Hell' As Death Toll Reaches Into The Thousands

Residents gather coins and other salvageable materials from the ruins of houses after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines. Reuters

As many as 10,000 people or more may be dead as a result of Typhoon Haiyan, which ravaged the Philippines on Friday, according to one official. However, the ensuing chaos and massive devastation left by one of the strongest storms in history is proof that it will be days before the storm’s impact is fully understood.

Even without an official count, Typhoon Haiyan is clearly one of the deadliest natural disasters to hit the island nation to date. There are dead bodies scattered in the streets, corpses tangled in the branches of fallen trees. Survivors are creating makeshift shelters out of salvaged parts from destroyed homes and buildings, and are left searching for nearly non-existent food, water, and fuel.

President Benigno S. Aquino declared the situation a "state of calamity."

The fourth-strongest tropical cyclone in history, typhoon Haiyan registered 195 mph winds and 235 mph gusts three hours before it made landfall on Friday morning. The typhoon made landfall on the Samar province, the easternmost part of the Visayan islands, where 300 are reported dead and 2,000 missing. Leyte province appears to be hardest hit by the typhoon, with deaths concentrated in the city of Tacloban.

Tacloban city administrator Tecson John S. Lim said that the death toll in the city “could go up to 10,000,” according to the Associated Press. In a city of 200,000, an estimated 20,000 homes are damaged. Most of the deaths are believed to be from drowning or from collapsing buildings.

According to The Philippine Daily Inquirer, city mayor Alfred Romualdez had to be rescued, and was “was holding on to his roof.”

"I was in the house, trapped in my room. The water is up to my nose. I cannot breathe anymore. I am trying to save myself," survivor Maritess Tayag said, describing the flooding, according to USA Today.

"The hardest thing is ... seeing your mother floating in the flood and you don't know what to do," her sister Maryann added. "You just see [her] there and the only thing is, [you] have to save yourself, I could not save her because she drowned already.”

Secretary Of The Interior: "People Are Desperate"

Some surrounding rural areas remain completely inaccessible, and their damage hasn't been assessed by recovery officials. Roads are impassable by blocked trees, highways have been overturned by the force of the storm, and four area airports remain shut.

“Access remains a key challenge as some areas are still cut off from relief operations,” the United Nations office in Manila told Bloomberg. “Unknown numbers of survivors do not have basic necessities such as food, water, and medicines, and remain inaccessible for relief operations, as roads, airports, and bridges were destroyed or covered in wreckage.”

“The entire airport was under water up to roof level,” said Secretary of the Interior Mar Roxas, according to The Philippine Daily Inquirer. “The devastation here is absolute."

As of 7 p.m. in Manila yesterday, the official death toll was 229 people, many of whom were unidentified, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, a number that will undoubtedly rise once rescue workers have time to count. For now the priority is on providing aid to the survivors.

“It is most important now to look after the survivors; we don’t want to expose them to the elements, get sick and add to the casualties,” President Aquino said yesterday in a briefing. “It will be a second tragedy if we fail” in post-disaster management.

People are working with close to nothing. A hospital in the city of Tacloban, which has been overwhelmed with injured people seeking first aid, displays a sign saying “No admissions. No supplies,” according to CNN.

“There is no power, no water, nothing,” said defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin, according to The New York Times. “People are desperate. They’re looting."

Emergency Aid And The International Response

The U.S. Embassy and the Obama administration made $100,000 immediately available on Saturday for basic healthcare, clean water, and sanitation — a figure likely to rise once needs are assessed. The U.S. military Pacific Command is deploying ships and aircraft to airlift emergency supplies, and to partake in search-and-rescue operations. Google set up an online person finder to help track down people who are missing or who became separated during the storm.

The local Philippine Red Cross with support from the International Red Cross are distributing food, water, and relief supplies as well as establishing shelters for displaced people. Although there is a huge need for basic supplies, those interested in helping should simply donate to trustworthy humanitarian organizations.

"Get international help to come here now — not tomorrow, now. This is really, really like bad ... bad, worse than hell, worse than hell,” said survivor Magina Fernandez to CNN. "We need to get the word out because the Philippine government can't do this alone."

Ways To Donate To Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts

USA Today assembled a list of reputable organizations that are working to bring aid to post-typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines, as well as ways to donate. Here are a few ways you can help.

Donate directly to the Philippine Red Cross through the organization's website.

UNICEF is providing emergency aid to deliver supplies to families. Donate $10 by texting RELIEF to 864233.

Text the word AID to 27722 to donate $10 to the U.N. World Food Programme's emergency food relief efforts in the Philippines.

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