Haiyan: relief pipelines open; president under pressure

16 Nov 2013


Appreciable amounts of food and medical aid finally began reaching the survivors of the Philippines typhoon today, even as the first mass burials took place in Tacloban, the city hardest hit by last week's Typhoon Haiyan.

Volunteers and firemen lowered over 160 unidentified victims into a mass grave the size of an Olympic swimming pool, according to local reports.

The pace of the aid effort has picked up over the last 24 hours. Foreign governments are sending blankets, tents, water purifiers and emergency food supplies. South Korea sent additional supplies on Friday.

Meanwhile, the country's President Benigno Aquino is under pressure over the country's internal relief efforts, as the United Nations says the typhoon has killed more than 4,000 people.

Over half a million people have been displaced. Authorities are struggling to meet their immediate needs. Given the scale of the disaster, the infrastructure and communications problems, this is not unusual.

President visited repackaging centres for aid relief in Manila on Thursday.

''We need to help lift up our countrymen so they'll be able to take care of themselves. But, for now, they need something to help them cope from the shock of the disaster, and some time to be able to take care of their lives,'' he said.

Thousands of people remain at Tacloban's damaged airport, trying to leave or to get treatment at a makeshift medical centre.

Relief efforts are reportedly being strongly aided by a temporary radio station operating out of a suitcase, providing both critical information and a dose of normalcy.

Survivors of the devastating typhoon are still struggling to find food and water and locate missing friends and family.

There is a large population in the Philippines with no television, newspapers, internet or normal radio - infrastructure that was destroyed by surging seas.

But First Response Radio - a makeshift community station broadcasting out of gear that can be carried in one suitcase - is up and running.

The unprecedented ferocity of the November 8 storm and the scale of destruction had completely overwhelmed the initial relief effort, leaving millions in the worst-hit central islands of Leyte and Samar hurt, homeless and hungry, with no power or water.

Today, UN agencies said more than 170,000 people had received rice rations or food packets, while the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres said they would have mobile surgical units up and running in Tacloban by the end of the week.

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