Relief is trickling into storm-ravaged areas of the Philippines and revealing scenes of utter devastation and suffering in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, believed to be the most powerful storm ever to hit the country.
As police and soldiers fan out across affected areas to provide security and logistics, a clearer picture emerges of the massive scale of the problems facing the impoverished country.
The Philippine military said Monday it has confirmed 942 people have died as a result of the storm, known locally as Yolanda, with another 275 confirmed missing. However, The United Nations warned Monday of a quickly mounting death toll from the super typhoon with 10,000 feared killed in the worst-hit city of Tacloban alone.
Authorities say Haiyan, one of the most powerful recorded typhoons to ever hit land and likely the deadliest natural disaster to beset the Philippines, has affected at least 9 million people. Winds of up to 305 km/h -- the sound of which survivors compared to a train -- combined with a reported storm surge of more than four metres slammed into communities of poorly-constructed homes and structures. Only tall, concrete buildings such as hotels and office towers were left standing.
The Canadian government has announced two separate aid packages for the Philippines: a promise of up to $5-million to assist with humanitarian aid in typhoon-affected areas and a new fund that will see Ottawa match the money donated by individual Canadians to typhoon relief during the next month.
A government source says elements of Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team are being sent to the Philippines.
The rapid-response team, known as DART, comprises 200 Canadian Forces personnel and was last deployed following the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the members of the team would be leaving at 5 p.m. ET from Canadian Forces Base Trenton, east of Toronto.
The federal government has already promised up to $5 million in aid money and has pledged to match donations from Canadians to relief organizations.
Donations to the relief effort can be made through the following organizations:
The Canadian Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan Fund
U.S. navy ships, cargo planes and Marines from Okinawa have been deployed to assist in the relief effort, while Canada is considering deploying its Disaster Assistance Response Team, according to International Development Minister Christian Paradis.
Other countries have also pledged to help out. Australia has approved $9-million in humanitarian aid, while New Zealand has pledged over $1-million.
ON THE GROUND
The eastern city of Guiuan, population 40,000, is believed to be largely destroyed.
Residents of Tacloban City, in the country’s east, appear to be the hardest hit. The city of 218,000 was hit by 'tornado-like' winds and a massive storm surge, and officials estimate that 10,000 people were killed. A local media outlet reported that the mayor was rescued from the roof of his home.
Survivors face a flooded city with no food, clean water, power or communications. Corpses litter the wreckage, some of them hanging from trees or clogging roads. A massive relief effort is underway, but is impeded by blocked roads and destroyed airports.
The security situation reportedly fell apart within hours of the storm’s arrival. There are reports of looting as survivors search for supplies. The chairman of the Philippine Red Cross told the New York Times that a convoy headed to Tacloban had to turn back after nearly being hijacked by a crowd of hungry people.
Local media are reporting that a state of calamity has been declared in Tacloban, the first step in the release of emergency government funds. President Benigno Aquino is considering declaring a state of emergency and martial law. A state of emergency usually includes curfews, price and food supply controls, military or police checkpoints and increased security patrols.
WHY TYPHOON HAIYAN DID SO MUCH DAMAGE
Haiyan’s winds were among the strongest ever recorded, and it appears to have killed more people than the previous deadliest Philippine storm, Thelma, in which about 5,100 people died in 1991.
An oceanographer told the New York Times that Haiyan’s fury was the result of several factors. Its powerful winds, low pressure and intense rain worked to deliver enormous amounts of water in a short time from different directions. Low-lying areas near rivers or coastlines didn’t stand a chance.
Haiyan made landfall in northern Vietnam early Monday after crossing the South China Sea, according to the Hong Kong meteorological observatory. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated, but there were no reports of significant damage or injuries.
It has since been downgraded to a tropical storm and meteorologists forecast torrential rain over the coming 24 hours across southern China.
With reports from Reuters, Associated Press, The New York Times, BBC and Philippine Star
How typhoons are formed
1. Typhoons start off as tropical thunderstorms. The strong winds pull in moisture from the oceans.
2. The thunderstorms convert the moisture into heat. The heat causes more air to flow to the centre of the storm causing evaporation.
3. All the heat and air flow toward the eye creating the typhoon.
Typhoon Haiyan's path and speed
The following map shows the typhoon's path through the Philippines and into China.
Typhoon Haiyan reached wind speeds of 314 km/h at landfall and gusts up to 378 km/h, stronger than hurricane Camille, the next strongest tropical cyclone, that had winds of 306 km/h.
The numbers correspond to:
1. Tuesday, 6 a.m.
2. Monday, 6 p.m.
3. Monday, 6 a.m.
4. Sunday, 6 p.m.
*Current as of Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. ET
Sources: Washington Post; NOAA; Central Weather Bureau; wiki.answers.com