Philippine typhoon leaves up to 10,000 dead
Corpses hung from trees, were scattered on sidewalks or buried in flattened buildings — some of the 10,000 people believed killed in one Philippine city alone by ferocious Typhoon Haiyan that washed away homes and buildings with powerful winds and giant waves.
As the scale of devastation became clear Sunday from one of the worst storms ever recorded, officials projected the death toll could climb even higher when emergency crews reach parts of the archipelago cut off by flooding and landslides. Looters raided grocery stores and gas stations in search of food, fuel and water as the government began relief efforts and international aid operations got underway.
Even in a nation regularly beset by earthquakes, volcanoes and tropical storms, Typhoon Haiyan appears to be the deadliest natural disaster on record.
Its sustained winds weakened to 133 km/h as it crossed the South China Sea before approaching northern Vietnam, where the typhoon made landfall early Monday after crossing the South China Sea, with winds weakened to 120 km/h, according to the Hong Kong meteorological observatory. Authorities there evacuated hundreds of thousands of people.
Trail of devastation
Reports from other affected islands indicated dozens, perhaps hundreds more deaths.
Video from Eastern Samar province’s Guiuan township — the first area where the typhoon made landfall — showed a trail of devastation. Many houses were flattened and roads were strewn with debris and uprooted trees. The ABS-CBN video showed several bodies on the street, covered with blankets.
"Even me, I have no house, I have no clothes. I don’t know how I will restart my life, I am so confused," an unidentified woman said, crying. "I don’t know what happened to us. We are appealing for help. Whoever has a good heart, I appeal to you — please help Guiuan."
The Philippine National Red Cross said its efforts were hampered by looters, including some who attacked trucks of food and other relief supplies it was shipping to Tacloban from the southern port of Davao.
Tacloban’s two largest malls and grocery stores were looted, and police guarded a fuel depot. About 200 police officers were sent into Tacloban to restore law and order.
With other rampant looting reported, President Benigno Aquino III said he was considering declaring a state of emergency or martial law in Tacloban. A state of emergency usually includes curfews, price and food supply controls, military or police checkpoints and increased security patrols.
The massive casualties occurred even though the government had evacuated nearly 800,000 people ahead of the typhoon.
Read the full article at: cbc.ca
Chasing chaos: The real-life story of a humanitarian aid worker
Idealistic and looking to make a difference, 24-year-old Jessica Alexander set out on a career in humanitarian relief work. But after managing a camp of tens of thousands of refugees in Darfur and rebuilding in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, Alexander said her idealism faded to cynicism for a time.
“My disillusionment came from realizing that these are systemic problems, and the aid community is working to save lives in the aftermath of huge disasters,” she said. “But a lot of the roots of these conflicts and some of the natural disasters that happen are due to lack of good governance, lack of preparedness.
Alexander, whose new memoir, “Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid,” traces the ups and downs of her career in aid work, told “On the Radar” that well-intentioned people can inadvertently make conditions worse, when it comes to responding to the world’s greatest tragedies and disasters.
“It became very clear that well-intentioned people that wanted to help and, you know, pitch in, really were causing more confusion and chaos,” Alexander said of her time working in Haiti, when she said “everything from church groups to vegan relief teams to Scientologists” flocked to the country.
These additional groups, Alexander said, complicated the professional aid community’s ability to orchestrate an organized response to the crisis in Haiti.