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Inside Story

The Philippines: After the storm

We look at international relief efforts and the difficulties the country faces getting aid to those who need it.

Last updated: 18 Nov 2013 16:36
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On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall, battered the Philippines.

Satellite pictures showed the sheer size of the storm, which was at one stage some 600km across with winds gusting at up to 300km per hour.

The town of Tacloban and towns all down the coast of Leyte are completely devastated. So what that really means in terms of the needs and the impact on the population [is] basically that hundreds of thousands of affected people are without homes. And we face a major issue in terms of what happens to these people. It's going to be a long-term operation for international organisations like the Red Cross ... And there are going to be multiple needs here. Not just immediate needs like food, relief ... but also you have got to think about the psychological needs. I mean people are going to need some level of help to get through the trauma of this.

Patrick Fuller, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

The provinces of Cebu, Bohol and Leyte were the worst affected. And Leyte's provincial capital, Tacloban, was all but destroyed - swept away by a 5m storm surge.

The typhoon exacted a deadly toll. More than 3,600 people are known to have died and over 1,000 people are unaccounted for. And some 11 million have been directly affected by the storm.

"It was a vicious force that paralysed the entire province of Leyte. It destroyed everything in its path," Al Jazeera correspondent Jamela Alindogan reported.

"The governor says he fears that at least 20,000 people are dead and those that survived face far more difficult days ahead - the entire province is isolated."

Alindogan reported that thousands have been left homeless, and are unsure about where to go. She said almost everyone she met had a family member or friend who had died.

Al Jazeera managed to get to some of the more remote areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan. In some cases, our team was the first visitors the survivors had seen.

Correspondent Step Vaessen, who made the journey to Bantayan Island in northern Cebu province, saw that islanders there were left to their own fate. Although most managed to survive they had also lost their homes.

"The government has to help us, we are highly affected here and we are getting really hungry, so we really need food," said Florita, a survivor.

Many residents decided to stop hoping for outside help to arrive, and began helping themselves, our correspondent said.

"Nearly one week after Haiyan, these villages here in Bantayan still look like the storm has just happened. Everywhere you hear the sound of hammering. People have decided to fix their own homes as much as they can," Vaessen said.

Although relief efforts are underway elsewhere in the Philippines, Vaessen said the islanders also need help. Although aid is starting to get through, everyone is not able to access it.

Some people in Tacloban told Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas that they are missing out not because the aid cannot reach them, but because local officials are favouring some people over others.

With many people still without food and water, and as President Benigno Aquino makes his second visit to Tacloban, questions are still being asked about the government's response to this crisis.

Was the Philippines caught off guard by Typhoon Haiyan? And what can the international community do in the face of such a disaster?

On this special episode of Inside Story, we join presenter Veronica Pedrosa and our correspondents to discuss the international relief effort following Typhoon Haiyan, and the difficulties the Philippines faces getting aid to those who need it.

"Power lines, roads, coastal villages - all wiped out in an instant. The typhoon arrived three hours earlier than expected. And thousands of people were trapped when water rose as high as five metres. We were one of them - right in the eye of Haiyan."

Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan reporting from Leyte province in the Philippines

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