Tacloban (Philippines) (AFP) – The UN launched an appeal for a third of a billion dollars on Tuesday as U.S. and British warships steamed towards the typhoon-ravaged Philippines where well over 10,000 people are feared dead.
Four days after Super 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 humanitarian operations director John Ging said, after Philippine President Benigno Aquino declared a “state of national calamity”.
The United Nations warned 10,000 people were feared dead in just one city, Tacloban, the provincial capital of Leyte province where 16-foot waves flattened nearly everything in their path as they swept hundreds of miles 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 $301 million.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told reporters in Manila the money was needed for “food, health, sanitation, shelter, debris removal and also protection of the most vulnerable”.
“I very much hope our donors will be generous.”
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.
“We have already seen an international and generous response given the horrific pictures that people have seen, particularly on their television screens,” she said.
Overwhelmed and under-resourced 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.
“There is nothing here left for us. Our house is gone, we don’t have any money, we don’t have our documents, passports, school records,” Carol Mampas, 48, told AFP at Tacloban’s destroyed airport as she cradled her feverish baby son in a blanket.
“Please, please, tell authorities to help us. Where is the food, where is the water? Where are the military collecting the dead?”
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.