Typhoon Haiyan Caused Damage 'Beyond Description,' 'Worse Than Hell' in Philippines; Now Hits Vietnam
Authorities in the Philippines were counting bodies on Monday morning amid acute shortage of electricity, food, water and medicine for survivors, days after Super Typhoon Haiyan caused unprecedented devastation. The storm is now ripping through northeastern Vietnam.
Haiyan made landfall in northern Vietnam, near the Chinese border, after weakening to a tropical storm, carrying gusts of up to 98 mph.
About 883,000 people in Vietnam's 11 central provinces have been moved to safe zones, according to the state media, which also said at least 11 people had been killed in the country ahead of the storm. One of those killed was a journalist who died in an accident as she was traveling to cover the storm, according to BBC.
In the Philippines, survivors could be seen standing in lines for rice and water, some of them covering their faces with rags due to the smell of the dead, Reuters reported, describing the scene in Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province where Haiyan destroyed about 80 percent of structures in its path.
"From a helicopter, you can see the extent of devastation. From the shore and moving a kilometer inland, there are no structures standing. It was like a tsunami," Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas was quoted as saying, of Tacloban. "I don't know how to describe what I saw. It's horrific."
"I can't think right now," an eight-month pregnant woman, who has lost 11 members of her family including two daughters, was quoted as saying. "I am overwhelmed."
"Get international help to come here now – not tomorrow, now," Magina Fernandez, another survivor told CNN, pleading for help. "This is really, really like bad, bad, worse than hell, worse than hell."
"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."
The Tacloban's only functioning hospital didn't have room for any more wounded victims. Injured lay in the hallways awaiting treatment. "We haven't anything left to help people with," a doctor was quoted as saying. "We have to get supplies in immediately."
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in the Philippines has confirmed 225 deaths as on early Monday, but the International Committee of the Red Cross says Haiyan may have killed over 10,000 people.
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 as of Monday. The Guiuan town with 40,000 people, which was the first to be hit by the typhoon, is among the inaccessible areas.
Amid the tragedy, looting of several stores, ATM machines and relief trucks was reported in Tacloban.
"Tonight, a column of armored vehicles will be arriving in Tacloban to show the government's resolve and to stop this looting," President Benigno Aquino was quoted as saying.
Some parts in the central Philippines had a blackout, and they were told it will take months to restore power.
About 90 U.S. Marines and sailors were on their way to the Philippines taking military assistance for relief efforts.
President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had said America stands ready to help.
"Having so recently had my own visit to the Philippines prevented by another powerful storm, I know that these horrific acts of nature are a burden that you have wrestled with and courageously surmounted before. Your spirit is strong," Kerry said in a statement.
Many international Christian relief agencies are also responding to the calamity. These include World Vision, Convoy of Hope, Water Missions International and Food for the Hungry.