- Photo: Reuters
As people affected by typhoon Haiyan struggle with survival, the issue regarding the thousands of dead has forced public officials to bury bodies in mass graves.
Truckloads of some the over 4,000 confirmed dead are being collected and dropped at freshly drug graves sites as fears over sanitation grow.
"It is difficult because there is an urgency for sanitation, and to boost morale and avoid more psychological stress," Police Superintendent Pierre Carpio told AFP.
Still, officials are not simply buying the bodies haphazardly they do hope to one day to identify all those killed in the storm. However, time is not on their side as decomposing bodies pose a health as well as mental risk.
Police are photographing the dead and numbering the bodies to keep a record that can one day be used to help surviving family members identify deceased relatives.
"There are still so many cadavers in so many areas. It's scary," Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez told AFP.
More than 600,000 people have been displaced by the typhoon, according to local agencies, while many remote areas hit by the storm were still inaccessible due to landslides and fallen trees. The town of Guiuan is home to 40,000 people and has been cut off from relief since the storm hit.
Sadly reports from relief workers dispatched to the region say many of the victims are children with one eyewitnesses saying every two out of five victims is are children.
"We are witnessing the complete devastation of a city. In Tacloban everything is flattened. Bodies litter the street, many, many of which are children. From what I saw, two out of every five bodies was that of a child," Lynette Lim, of Save the Children, told AFP.
"Children are particularly vulnerable in disasters. We fear for how many children have been washed away in floods, crushed under falling buildings and injured by flying debris," she added. "Many are separated from their families amid the devastation, and all are in desperate need of food, water and shelter."
It is estimated that as many as 25 million people are affected, with local reports describing houses damaged, large trees uprooted, after a storm surge of over 20 feet pushed on shore with winds reaching over 200 mph. An estimated 500,000 have been left homeless after their houses were reduced to splinters.
"There's an awful lot of casualties, a lot of people dead all over the place, a lot of destruction," Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine Red Cross, told the BBC. "It's absolute bedlam right now, but hopefully it will turn out better as more and more supplies get into the area."