The UN launched an appeal for US$301 million yesterday as US and British warships steamed toward the typhoon-ravaged Philippines, where well over 10,000 people are feared dead.
Four days after Typhoon Haiyan destroyed entire coastal communities with record winds and tsunami-like waves, the magnitude of the disaster continued to build with almost unimaginable horror.
Festering bodies still littered the streets in many areas, with the smell of rotting flesh hanging in the air and ramping up the fear of disease in the tropical heat.
Increasingly desperate survivors begged for help that was having difficulty reaching them — many still without access to food and water after nights spent in the open.
“We are certainly expecting the worst. As we get more and more access, we find the tragedy of more and more people killed in this typhoon,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Coordination and Response Director John Ging said.
The UN said that 10,000 people were feared dead in just one city, Tacloban, the provincial capital of Leyte province, where 5m waves flattened nearly everything in their path as they swept hundreds of meters inland.
Nearly 10 million people, or 10 percent of the Philippines’ population, have been affected, while 660,000 have lost their homes, the UN estimated as it launched a flash appeal for US$301 million.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos told reporters in Manila the money was needed for “food, health, sanitation, shelter, debris removal and also protection of the most vulnerable.”
Amos praised the international community’s reaction since Haiyan slammed into the Philippines on Friday, but said much more needed to be done in a disaster of almost biblical proportions.
Overwhelmed rescue workers have been unable to provide desperately needed food, water, medicines, shelter and other relief supplies to many survivors, and desperation has been building across the disaster zones.
Bodies still litter the wreckage, while security concerns are growing as gangs take advantage of a security vacuum to loot homes and businesses. The government announced a night-time curfew for Tacloban and deployed special forces across the ruined city to try to prevent pillaging.
An international relief effort has begun to build momentum, with the US and Britain announcing they were sending warships to the Philippines.
The aircraft carrier USS George Washington headed from Hong Kong yesterday. Five other US warships are also being deployed and should arrive in two to three days.