Aid and relief workers is just beginning to reach the Philippines, following the devastation wreaked by super Typhoon Haiyan.
Since Haiyan—the worst storm to ever make landfall—hit days ago, 1,774 have been confirmed dead and 2,784 are confirmed injured, but those numbers are expected to rise as relief workers finally make it to the hardest hit areas. The president of the Philippines announced on Tuesday that the death toll would likely rise to between 2000 and 2,500; earlier estimates that 10,000 were dead came from an “emotional” official, the president said.
Many regions are still inaccessible, but the ones that are show enormous damage.
USAID sent a disaster response team to inspect the second largest city in the Leyte Province, Ormoc, and found that the typhoon had damaged or destroyed 80% - 90% percent of the housing.
Also in Leyte, the city of Tacloban is in ruins. Bodies liter the streets and supplies are hard to come by; more than 56,000 homes have been destroyed by one estimate and another 83,000 damaged.
“We survived the typhoon and now we’re are questioning ourselves how to survive in terms of food, in terms of water,” survivor Mikan Santos told NBC.
Government officials report that 9.7 million people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines; 23,200 houses have been damaged or destroyed. At least 615,770 people have been displaced by the storm in the Philippines, and 792,000 people were evacuated in advance of the storm.
The U.S. is sending $20 million in aid and 243 U.S. military officials are there helping with relief efforts.
Half of those funds will go toward immediate relief—handing out emergency supplies and clean water, in addition to improving sanitation and accessibility—and half will go to airlifting food in and procuring food to the most damaged areas. Immediately, 55 metric tons of food will be airlifted in from Miami to feed 20,000 children under five and 15,000 adults for five days. Another 1,020 metric tons of rice from Sri Lanka will be funded by the relief; arriving in three weeks, it will help feed 60,000 for a month.
Jed Mabilog, the mayor of Iloilo City on the island of Panay, reported to NBC News that “almost 80% of the northern area of the province of Iloilo has been flattened, meaning buildings, churches, hospitals have all been destroyed,” he said. “At the moment most of the roads are still not passable and there are still a lot of challenges on the delivery of food, water and medicine and all the other basic needs.”