Typhoon Notebook

Surging wall of water made escape difficult

A boy wounded by flying debris stayed near the ruins of his home in Tacloban.
Erik De Castro/Reuters
A boy wounded by flying debris stayed near the ruins of his home in Tacloban.

As rescuers struggled Sunday to reach areas of the Philippines cut off by flooding and landslides from Typhoon Haiyan, pictures and witness accounts emerging from the region told of the immensity of the storm and the devastation it left behind.

In Guiuan township in Eastern Samar province — the first area where the typhoon made landfall — video from the ABS-CBN network showed hundreds of buildings flattened and roads strewn with debris and uprooted trees. There were scores of bodies on the street, covered with blankets.

When the storm struck the hard-hit city of Tacloban, one resident said he and others took refuge inside a Jeep, but the vehicle was picked up by a surging wall of water.


‘‘The water was as high as a coconut tree,’’ said Sandy Torotoro, a bicycle-taxi driver who lives near the airport with his wife and 8-year-old daughter. ‘‘I got out of the Jeep and I was swept away by the rampaging water with logs, trees, and our house, which was ripped off from its mooring.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here


Even shelters are damaged

Lynette Lim, a spokeswoman for Save the Children, weathered the storm in a local government office in Tacloban, leaving the city on a military aircraft Sunday morning. She said that even schools, gymnasiums and other sites designated by the local government as evacuation centers had failed to hold up against the powerful winds.

“The roofs had been ripped off, the windows had shattered, and sometimes the ceilings had caved in,” Lim said in a telephone interview from Manila.

Poor neighborhoods fared especially badly, with virtually no structures left standing except a few government buildings.



New York Times

Full effects still unknown

With communications still knocked out in many areas, it was unclear how authorities were arriving at their estimates of the number of people killed by the typhoon. And it will be days before the full extent of the storm is known because many areas had not been reached by relief workers.

But firsthand reports made it clear that the toll was staggering. Corpses were found in trees, scattered on sidewalks, and buried in mud and collapsed buildings.

‘‘On the way to the airport, we saw many bodies along the street,’’ said Mila Ward, 53, a Philippine-born Australian who was waiting at the Tacloban airport to catch a military flight back to Manila, about 360 miles to the northwest.


Agencies swing into action


Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has said his government is prepared to use about $530 million from various agencies and his discretionary fund for relief and rebuilding. World governments also have pledged help. The United States is providing humanitarian assistance, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed the Pacific Command to deploy ships and aircraft to support search-and-rescue operations and fly in emergency supplies.

The American Red Cross asked those who want to support relief efforts to mail a check to their local chapter.