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FRANCE 24 reports from city devastated by typhoon

FRANCE 24 screen grab

Five days after Typhoon Haiyan all but destroyed Tacloban, a coastal city in the central Philippines, many storm survivors feel they have little choice but to try to flee, their homes left in ruins and relief efforts slowed by the devastation.


Tacloban, a coastal city in the central Philippines, was the area hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan five days ago. The storm was one of the most powerful in recorded history and claimed the lives of at least 2,000 people, many of them in Tacloban.

As FRANCE 24’s correspondents Cyril Payen and Ismail Wolff arrived there on Monday on one of the first commercial flights into the city after the typhoon, the damage was immediately apparent. The plane, which was filled with relatives desperate to find loved ones, fell silent as it began its descent over the ravaged landscape.

“Normally it’s a very sweet airport without any problems. Today, it’s hell on earth,” said Thomas, a Canadian national who had travelled to Tacloban to find his wife and son.

With relief efforts hampered by the devastation, crowds of survivors thronged the Tacloban airport hoping to flee.

“Tens of thousands have been affected. Many are coming here desperate to seek evacuation out of what they consider to be hell now,” Wolff reported. “[It’s not an] option for them to stay at home and they have no idea where else to go. But for them, these days are becoming more and more desperate as it looks that evacuation is not coming soon.”

Overflowing hospitals

Hospital waiting rooms in areas hit by Haiyan were overflowing as medical staff struggled to make do with few resources.

Hospitals in the Philippines overwhelmed after Typhoon Haiyan

One hospital in Tacloban was severely damaged. Some corridors were still partially submerged in water and there was no power, making it difficult to attend to those in need. Conditions were similar at another hospital in the Bogo district of the central Philippines’ Cebu City, where doctors have continued to treat patients despite a lack of electricity and running water.

“We have no water here and [we are doing everything possible], like collecting rain water, just for the use of emergency cases,” said Maria Ngojo, a medical technician at the hospital in Bogo. "We need generators because our laboratories are incapable. We cannot do anything without power."

International aid organisations and foreign governments have mounted rescue operations and committed millions of dollars in relief but some areas remain cut off because of the widespread destruction.

An estimated 9 million people across the Philippines have been affected by the storm, and the United Nations said that 660,000 have been displaced.

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