Harrowing sights on the streets of Tacloban in aftermath of Haiyan

Children pick their way through rubble searching desperately for their parent’s bodies while begging passers-by for water and food.

In the scorching midday heat, Philippine policemen continue to pile rotting corpses onto trucks.

These are the sights on the chaotic streets of Tacloban, the capital of Leyte, where Typhoon Haiyan did its worst damage.


Getting transport, whether by boat or plane, into the city has been near impossible not just for eager NGOs but, unfortunately, Philippine families desperate to find their missing loved ones.

At Tacloban Airport, families huddle together close to the runway awaiting their turn to fly on military planes away from this chaotic and desolate city.

But it is the road from the airport into the flattened centre that reveals most about what destruction the cyclone inflicted on the Philippine community here.

Young Marisa Penada has lost her 10-month old baby boy, Terence, and her own parents.

She can now only pick her way through smashed concrete and iron rods at her flattened family home in the scorching midday heat.

Marisa described how the water swept the family and her baby right off the roof and up a city main road.

“I was washed away with my baby, he’s still missing.

“We don’t know where mum and dad are and have come back to the house to see what we can still use,” she adds.

“We also had a store selling junk food, soft drinks and cigarettes here,” she adds surveying the remains of the four-bedroom house.

She and her sister are searching for their parents’ bodies. They know they’re dead. But there is mile after mile of debris under which they might lie.

“I remember the morning [of the typhoon]. The wind started and then it was raining slowly,” says Marisa.

“The water slowly started coming up, then suddenly it was nearly at the second floor. We went to the roof, but then the big waves came.”

Nearby, others with scarves around their mouths search out loved ones’ remains under collapsed walls.

Marisa adds: “There are dead people here every night. The spirits of the dead can’t rest in peace. Many ghosts are crying or walking.”

Bulging decayed bodies still lie on the side of the road. By midday yesterday police had recovered 209 bodies from Tacloban’s streets in just a few hours.

Policemen with surgical masks bag the corpses and toss them into the back of slow moving lorries.

Police officer Romel Gonzalez, 39, has been removing the dead for nine days.

“I’m doing this for victims, so families can identify them,” he explains.

Elsewhere, smashed cars lie tossed aside like confetti in the storm.

In Tacloban’s stadium over 1,000 people occupy the basketball arena, empty shops and attached buildings.

When Typhoon Haiyan came, they took shelter and watched from the top floor as the waves regressed and minutes later rushed at the shore.

Lioda Tanael scoops rice into her mouth with her kids at lunchtime.

The mother-of-15 and all her children survived the November 8 tropical storm.

“We had planned to evacuate, so came here. The sea moved out and then it became very, very big,” she says.

Policemen guard the stadium after recent looting and attacks at night.

Inside its smashed up gym, injured men and women lie with bandaged legs and arms, spread out on treadmills.

This is home now.



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