[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Aid begins to reach remote Philippine areas

Supplies finally arrive in some of worst hit and remote areas, eight days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the country.

Last updated: 17 Nov 2013 03:52
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Substantial food and medical aid has finally begun to reach desperate survivors of a super-typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, but humanitarian groups are warning of huge challenges in accessing devastated communities in remote areas.

The unprecedented ferocity of Haiyan on November 8 and the scale of destruction it caused had completely overwhelmed the initial relief effort, leaving millions in the worst-hit central islands of Leyte and Samar hurt, homeless and hungry, with no power or water.

Eight days later, aid workers are funnelling emergency supplies to those left destitute in the ruins of Leyte's Tacloban city, while helicopters flying off the aircraft carrier USS George Washington have brought some relief to outlying areas.

In Giporlos, a small coastal town of around 12,000 people in eastern Samar, where the typhoon first struck, a US Seahawk helicopter flew in the first relief supplies on Saturday, landing in the playground of a ruined school.  

"We're very happy even if it isn't really sufficient for us," said resident Maria Elvie Depelco. "We accept a little, and we survive. Because there's no more food, no houses here," she said, pointing to the flattened remains of the town where 12 people died.

The place really needs to be saturated with relief. People literally have nothing. Money is useless here.

Patrick Fuller, Red Cross spokesperson

In the nearby town of Guiuan, planes laden with supplies were landing and taking off every few minutes from an old military airstrip that had been reopened.

UN agencies said more than 170,000 family food packages had been distributed across the disaster zones, while the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) international aid agencies said that they would have mobile surgical units up and running in Tacloban by the end of the weekend.

"The place really needs to be saturated with relief," Red Cross Asia-Pacific spokesman Patrick Fuller said in Tacloban. "People literally have nothing. Money is useless here."

Since the arrival of the USS George Washington late Thursday, the US military said it had delivered 118 tonnes of food, water and shelter items to Tacloban and elsewhere, and airlifted nearly 2,900 people to safety.

Although aid was arriving, relief officials described sanitary conditions in the covered sports stadium in Tacloban that served as the main evacuation centre as appalling.

Death toll

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Saturday put the official death toll at 3,633, many of them killed by five metre storm surges that hit Tacloban.

Another 1,179 people were listed as missing and nearly 12,500 injured, and the death toll was widely expected to continue climbing as more complete assessments were made. 

The UN reported that 4,460 had been confirmed dead, and said Saturday that 2.5 million people still "urgently" required food assistance.

An estimated 13 million people were affected by the storm, which swept off the Pacific Ocean with some of the strongest winds ever recorded, including nearly 1.9 million displaced survivors.

533

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
As nuclear age approaches eighth decade, visitors flock to historic bomb craters at New Mexico test sites.
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
join our mailing list