AID agencies are mounting
a "massive response", as the scale of the devastation caused by
Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines becomes clear. But essential
supplies to survivors of the storm have been slow to reach the
worst-affected areas, despite the array of organisations working in
The confirmed death toll
now stands at 2275, but some officials are warning that up to
10,000 people may have died when the typhoon tore through the
central Philippines last Friday.
The charity World Vision
said in a statement that it was aiming to provide life-saving
essentials to 1.2 million people in the aftermath of the storm,
which some are calling the most powerful ever to ever hit land.
But Liz Satow, from World
Vision, told the BBC that she had heard increasing reports of aid
convoys being attacked by starving Filipinos, who were frantically
looking for food. "Desperate people behave in desperate ways and
it's easy to underestimate the desperation people feel when they
don't have enough food and water."
She also said that the
heavy rain and wind have destroyed much of the Philippines'
infrastructure and communications, which also made delivering aid
Eight people were killed
in the town of Alangalang when a wall collapsed in a food
warehouse, which was mobbed by survivors. Police and soldiers were
unable to stop more than 100,000 sacks of rice being looted from
the government facility.
A statement from World
Vision said that many of its staff in the area were also victims of
the typhoon, 37 of them suffering damage to their homes. One World
Vision worker, Erna Tupaz, said: "The typhoon totally destroyed our
house. We're living with neighbours now. I can't do anything but to
Aaron Aspi, a World Vision emergency specialist, said:
"It was like waking up from a nightmare."
Grace Baloro, a World
Vision worker with family on the island of Leyte, which was badly
hit by the storm, said: "I'm worrying about my two children. I
don't have any contact with them yet. I left them with their
The British Government
announced on Sunday that it would donate £6 million, which was
later increased to £15 million, to provide "crucial humanitarian
aid". The chairman of the Philippines Red Cross, Richard Gordon,
told the BBC, however, that the situation was "absolute bedlam".
"There's an awful lot of casualties, a lot of people dead all over
the place, a lot of destruction. . . But hopefully it will turn out
better, as more and more supplies get into the area."
The UN released $25
million of emergency funding to help humanitarian aid reach the
affected areas quickly. Staff from the charity Samaritan's Purse
arrived in the Philippines on Saturday, and Us (formerly USPG) also
began an appeal to raise funds for the relief work of the National
Council of Churches in the Philippines. The UK's Disasters
Emergency Committee said that more than £13 million was raised in
the first 24 hours of its appeal.
Speaking last Friday,
Alwynn Javier, a Christian Aid senior programme officer in Manila,
said that the damage was likely to be colossal. "This is on a scale
never been seen before. It has covered a vast area, including
islands where the infrastructure was already limited. Air and
seaports are closed, and power lines are down, cutting off entire
provinces, and leaving many communities stranded."
Coree Steadman, regional
emergency manager for Christian Aid, said that the charity had not
been able to get in touch with its local partners because of the
devastation caused by the storm.
She said: "It is not just
the strength of the typhoon, but the scale of it - it has affected
15 provinces, two of which were also hit by the earthquake. Our
priority now is responding to immediate needs - food, household
items, blankets, and shelter materials. We will also be looking at
the extent of the damage to livelihoods as part of our assessment.
In the next few weeks, we will be able to respond for longer-term
The storm struck the
central Philippine islands of Leyte and Samar, and northern parts
of Cebu. A spokesman for World Vision said that the charity had
been unable to contact staff in Tacloban City, which is on Leyte.
The town has been flattened by the storm, and there are reports
that bodies are piling up in the streets, as aid struggles to reach
The charity said that it
would be sending relief teams to the Visayas region, which was
worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan, besides continuing its support of up
to 7000 families affected by the earthquake last month.
The chief executive of
Tearfund, Matthew Frost, asked the charity's supporters to pray for
the relief effort in the Philippines. "As well as the urgent and
practical things like helping people have a roof over their heads,
we know that there will be a lot of grief as people come to terms
with bereavement. We must pray for the thousands of people who are
grieving and ask God how he wants each of us to respond to their
"Please also pray for the
churches who are sending teams out, many of whom will travel long
distances by motorbike, that their teams would stay safe and well
on their travels, and that they would be able to bring hope to the
people they meet."
On Monday, the Archbishop
of Canterbury sent a message of solidarity with the victims of
Typhoon Haiyan. Archbishop Welby's statement read: "We are all
deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the loss of thousands of
lives and of the suffering of millions as a result of Typhoon
"Our prayers are with all
who have lost loved ones and all those who are traumatised by the
disaster and in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical
attention. I note that the relief work has already commenced and my
prayer is that governments, agencies, churches and individuals will
respond generously to help the people of the Philippines to recover
and rebuild their shattered lives."
The Dean of St Anne's
Cathedral in Belfast, the Very Revd John Mann, announced that £5000
from the cathedral's annual "Black Santa" Christmas charity appeal
would be donated to aid agencies working in the Philippines.
Question of the week: Do you think
that such extreme weather events as Typhoon Haiyan are caused by