Survivors of the super typhoon that has devastated several islands in the Philippines have begun scavenging for food and looting shops in order to stay alive, witnesses say.
Shopping centres and grocery stores in Tacloban, which appears to have been hardest hit by Haiyan, have reportedly been stripped of goods as rescuers’ efforts to deliver food and water were hampered by severed roads and communications.
“Tacloban is totally destroyed. Some people are losing their minds from hunger or from losing their families,” high school teacher Andrew Pomeda, 36, said as he warned of the increasing desperation of survivors.
“People are becoming violent. They are looting business establishments, the malls, just to find food, rice and milk. I am afraid that in one week, people will be killing from hunger.”
During a visit to Tacloban, President Benigno Aquino acknowledged that looting had emerged as a major concern after only 20 out of 390 of the city’s police officers turned up for work following the typhoon.
“So we will send about 300 police and soldiers to take their place and bring back peace and order,” he said.
“Tonight, an armoured vehicle will arrive and our armed forces will display the strength of the state to put a stop to this looting.”
Aid agencies have warned that many of the 330,000 people whose homes have been destroyed by the bludgeoning force of the cyclone face a desperate battle to survive.
“People are walking like zombies looking for food,” said Jenny Chu, a medical student in Leyte. “It’s like a movie.”
Nancy Chang, who was in Tacloblan City on a business trip from China and walked three hours through mud and debris for a military-led evacuation, said: “It’s like the end of the world.”
Relief efforts are being hampered by the complete destruction of the airport, where seawaters swept through, shattering the glass of the airport tower, levelling the terminal and overturning nearby vehicles.
Airport manager Efren Nagrama, 47, said: “It was like a tsunami. We escaped through the windows and I held on to a pole for about an hour as rain, seawater and wind swept through the airport.
“Some of my staff survived by clinging to trees. I prayed hard all throughout until the water subsided.”
Helicopters, which are in limited supply in the Philippines, are the only way in and out of the city.
Police were deployed to guard a fuel depot to prevent the theft of fuel, while mobs attacked trucks loaded with food, tents and water on Tanauan bridge in Leyte.
Where water and food was being handed out, survivors formed long queues as they desperately waited to get supplies.
The World Food Programme said it was airlifting 40 tonnes of high-energy biscuits, enough to feed 120,000 people for a day, as well as emergency supplies and telecommunications equipment.
International aid agencies said relief efforts in the Philippines are stretched thin after a 7.2 magnitude quake in central Bohol province last month.
There has also been a mass movement of refugees caused by a conflict with Muslim rebels in southern Zamboanga province.
Please send what ever aid you can as they are in dire need of it.
Its Parker baby