independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Children beg for food and search for parents on shattered streets piled high with bodies

THE aid has started to arrive in stricken Tacloban, but still the city reels from the effects of typhoon Haiyan.

Young children wander the streets looking for their parents and carrying signs begging for food and water.

Decomposing bodies litter the streets of the worst-hit parts as the dead remain unburied.

There is no visible leadership on the ground.

A curfew of 6pm has been implemented, even though most people are now homeless.

Members of local government have also been affected and have themselves lost relatives in the typhoon. People are being urged to bury bodies away from water sources and in temporary shallow graves.

Many are angry that help hasn't come sooner. Others are lining the highways, desperate for help.

Tacloban is without light or power and people have no shelter. Almost 700,000 have been made homeless by the strongest typhoon ever to make landfall.

People in the city are huddling under the last remaining church with a roof.

Typhoid and cholera are now threatening the worst-hit parts of the Philippines, warned Fr Shay Cullen, three-time Nobel prize nominee, who has spent the last 40 years there.

A communist group tried to take over a town that was hit by the typhoon – known locally as Yolanda – and eight survivors were killed when the walls of a warehouse in Tacloban fell down as they tried to raid it for food.

The Columban father told the Irish Independent his "great concern" was for orphaned children who were now at risk of abduction for the sex trade or illegal adoption.

Cebu, a large island to the west of Leyte, where Tacloban is situated, has become the aid hub and staff in the airport said that aid began arriving on Tuesday night.

Survivors tried to make it to the neighbouring island of Cebu but were hampered when another typhoon hit on Tuesday, meaning they could not cross the water with stormy conditions.

The World Health Organisation has rated typhoon Haiyan as a category-three disaster, the worst level of catastrophe.

The earthquake that rocked Haiti in 2010 and the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 were also in this category.

While the death toll remains relatively low, the great concern now is for the one million survivors who have no access to a clean water supply, and outbreaks of cholera and typhoid are threatening.

Irish aid supplies have arrived and GOAL workers are on the ground, accessing how best to distribute it.

There was some good news for Filipino Angelina Tabamo, who works at St Vincent's Hospital. She finally made contact with her family last night and confirmed they were safe.

But in Ireland, many more among the close-knit Filippino community are still waiting by their computers and their phones for news.

By Joyce Fegan

Irish Independent

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