TACLOBAN, Philippines, (Reuters) – Rescue workers struggled to reach ravaged towns and villages in the central Philippines yesterday as they tried to deliver aid to survivors of a powerful typhoon that killed an estimated 10,000 people and displaced more than 600,000.
The United Nations said some survivors had no food, water or medicine. Relief operations were hampered because roads, airports and bridges had been destroyed or were covered in wreckage, it said.
President Benigno Aquino, facing one of the biggest challenges of his three-year rule, deployed soldiers to the devastated city of Tacloban to quell looting and said he might impose martial law or a state of emergency to ensure security.
Super typhoon Haiyan destroyed about 70 to 80 percent of structures in its path as it tore through Leyte province on Friday, said police chief superintendent Elmer Soria. After weakening, the storm headed west towards Vietnam.
Huge waves from one of the strongest storms ever recorded swept away coastal villages. Some officials likened the destruction to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
“From a helicopter, you can see the extent of devastation. From the shore and moving a kilometre inland, there are no structures standing. It was like a tsunami,” said Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas, who was in Tacloban, Leyte’s capital, before the typhoon struck. “I don’t know how to describe what I saw. It’s horrific.”
The Philippines government and disaster agency have not confirmed the latest estimate of the number of deaths from the storm, whose sustained winds reached 195 miles per hour (313 km per hour) with gusts of up to 235 mph (378 kph).
Soria, quoting local officials, said the estimated death toll so far was 10,000. That could climb once rescuers reach remote villages along the coast.