Race to save Philippine typhoon survivors

President says huge international response required

A mother cries in relief upon boarding a Philippine Air Force helicopter  following typhoon Haiyan. Photograph: AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

A mother cries in relief upon boarding a Philippine Air Force helicopter following typhoon Haiyan. Photograph: AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 07:36

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino declared a “state of national calamity” in the Philippines yesterday in the aftermath of one of the world’s worst typhoons.

The declaration will aid relief operations and help restore order in devastated communities amid escalating looting.

Rescuers have encountered such high levels of destruction as they reach isolated areas that aid agencies are comparing the impact of typhoon Haiyan to that of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The government yesterday doubled the number of people affected by Friday’s disaster to 9.5 million and aid agencies said it could rise further because many districts have yet to be reached. The army said the death toll was 942 but local officials have said it could exceed 10,000.

In a prime-time television speech, Mr Aquino asked for patience as relief operations were co-ordinated. “The extent of the devastation brought us back to a situation where information was passed on from one person to another. There was no television, radio and internet,” he said.


Law and order
Authorities in Tacloban, the worst-hit city so far reached by officials, declared a state of emergency to restore law and order as looting spread to neighbouring areas.

A Red Cross truck carrying emergency supplies to the city was attacked. The government said it was ready to deploy more police officers.

Alfredo Romualdez, mayor of Tacloban, said the state of emergency should help limit looting in the city, according to ABS-CBN television.

“The people here showed some violent actions because they are hungry, they are thirsty, and not because they want to hurt others,” he said.

Forty-one of the Philippines’ 80 provinces were affected by the typhoon, with almost 30 provinces left without electricity and 15 suffering telecoms disruption. The energy department said it could take up to two months to restore electricity to affected areas. – Additional reporting by AP (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013)