Haiyan death toll to rise as rescuers reach remote areas
TACLOBAN (Philippines) — Rescue workers tried to reach towns and villages in the central Philippines today (Nov 12) that were cut off by a powerful typhoon, fearing the estimated death toll of 10,000 could jump sharply, as relief efforts intensified with the help of the United States military.
The US will send an aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, to the Philippines, a US defence official told Reuters, in a move that could further scale up air operations at a time when ground teams are struggling to reach areas where roads are impassable and bridges destroyed.
The carrier is already in the region, having been on a port visit to Hong Kong.
Officials in Tacloban, which bore the brunt of one of the strongest storms ever recorded when Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines last Friday, have said the death toll could be 10,000 in their city alone.
Compounding the misery for survivors, a depression is due to bring rain to the central and southern Philippines today, the weather bureau said.
“I think what worries us the most is that there are so many areas where we have no information from, and when we have this silence, it usually means the damage is even worse,” said Mr Joseph Curry of the US Organisation Catholic Relief Services.
The “sheer size of the emergency” in the wake of the typhoon was testing relief efforts, he told NBC’s Today programme yesterday, speaking from Manila.
Mr John Ging, director of operations at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said “many places are strewn with dead bodies” that need to be buried quickly to prevent the outbreak of a public health disaster.
“We’re sadly expecting the worst as we get more and more access,” said Mr Ging, speaking to reporters at the United Nations in New York.
President Benigno Aquino declared a state of national calamity and deployed hundreds of soldiers in Tacloban to quell looting. Tacloban’s administration appeared to be in disarray as city and hospital workers focused on saving their own families and securing food.