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A survivor walks among the debris of houses destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines. Across the Philippines an estimated 9.5 million people were affected, at least 620,000 were forced from their homes and it's feared that more than 10,000 were killed. (AFP/Getty Images)

'Absolute Bedlam' In The Philippines After Typhoon Haiyan

Nov 11, 2013

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The news from the Philippines, where it's feared that last week's powerful Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 10,000 people, isn't getting better as hundreds of thousands of people struggle to survive and authorities struggle to get help to them.

"It's absolute bedlam right now," Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine Red Cross, tells the BBC.

According to the BBC, "a huge international relief effort is underway, but rescue workers have struggled to reach some towns and villages cut off since the storm. 'There's an awful lot of casualties, a lot of people dead all over the place, a lot of destruction,' " Gordon says.

On Morning Edition, Lynette Lim of Save the Children described the scene in Tacloban, one of the hardest-hit cities. She was there over the weekend. "Complete areas have been totally flattened," Lim said. "It was truly catastrophic."

Freelance journalist Aurora Almendral spoke to NPR from the the town of Hilongos en route to hardest-hit Tacloban City. She said some people who had managed to get food and water were worried about looters who might try to take it.

Almendral related one young woman she met who "hasn't heard from her family since before the storm. [Her] father, mother, brother and four-year-old daughter. She has absolutely no news."

Reuters reports that:

"Dazed survivors begged for help and scavenged for food, water and medicine on Monday, as relief workers struggled to reach victims. ... As President Benigno Aquino deployed hundreds of soldiers in the coastal city of Tacloban to quell looting, the huge scale of death and destruction become clearer as reports emerged of thousands of people missing and images showed apocalyptic scenes in one town that has not been reached by rescue workers. ...

"Flattened by surging waves and monster winds up to 235 mph, Tacloban, 360 miles southeast of Manila, was relying almost entirely for supplies and evacuation on just three military transport planes flying from nearby Cebu city."

According to CNN:

"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. ...

"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.' ...

"Fishing communities stretch for miles down the eastern coast of the island of Leyte. ... The other settlements along the coast are likely to have suffered a similar fate to Tacloban."

United Nations officials report that about 9.5 million people in the Philippines have been affected by the typhoon and its aftermath. Around 620,000 were forced from their homes. The number of confirmed deaths — which on Sunday was just over 200 — was by Monday said to be about 1,000.

But as we reported over the weekend, officials are warning that the number of deaths will likely rise to 10,000.

The U.S. military has joined in the rescue effort. According to Agence France Presse, "in Tacloban, U.S. military C-130 planes full of relief supplies began arriving on Monday afternoon. The planes, with Marines aboard, were the most visible sign of a major international relief effort that had begun to build."

NPR's Anthony Kuhn, who is in Manila, tells our Newscast Desk that the U.S. military is bringing in water, generators and trucks. Foreign governments and aid groups, he adds, "have begun shipping food, medicine and supplies to the hard-hit Visayas region on the Philippines' eastern seaboard."

Meanwhile, as AFP adds, "Haiyan swept out into the South China Sea on Saturday and hit Vietnam on Monday in a significantly weakened state, although still strong enough to uproot trees and tear roofs off hundreds of homes. National disaster officials in Vietnam said no deaths had been reported on Monday, although state media said five people had died during preparations for the typhoon."

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UPDATES

5:50 p.m. ET: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has ordered the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), with 5,000 sailors aboard, and other U.S. Navy ships to the Philippines to assist in typhoon relief efforts. 4:30 p.m. ET: U.S. Marine Corp says it's moving "surface maritime search and rescue (SAR), airborne maritime SAR, medium-heavy helicopter lift support, fixed-wing lift support and logistics enablers," into the region. Approximately 215 U.S. military personnel are deployed in the Philippines to help in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. 12:30 p.m. ET: 'Stop This Madness,' Tearful Filipino Pleads At Climate Talks 10:40 a.m. ET. Haiyan, Yolanda Or Both? While the World Meteorological Organization calls the storm Haiyan, in the Philippines it is known as Yolanda. As The Associated Press notes, "the Philippines has its own naming system." 10:30 a.m. ET. "Calamity" Declared: President Benigno Aquino III has declared "a state of national calamity." Like a presidential "state of emergency" declaration in the U.S., Aquino's proclamation is designed to "hasten the rescue, recovery, relief, and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector."

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