Emily Sagalis cried tears of joy after giving birth to a “miracle” girl in a typhoon-ravaged Philippine city, then named the baby after her mother who went missing in the storm.
The girl was born in a destroyed airport compound that was turned into a makeshift medical centre, with her bed a piece of dirty plywood resting amid dirt, broken glass, twisted metal, nails and other debris.
“She is so beautiful. I will name her Bea Joy in honour of my mother, Beatriz,” Sagalis, 21, whispered shortly after giving birth.
Sagalis said her mother was swept away when giant waves generated by Super Typhoon Haiyan surged into their home near Tacloban city, the capital of Leyte province which was one of the worst-hit areas, and she has not been seen since.
Residents queue up to receive treatment and relief supplies at Tacloban airport
More than 10,000 people are believed to have died in Leyte, and many hundreds on other islands across the central Philippines, which would make Haiyan the country’s worst recorded natural disaster.
But, in the most tragic of circumstances, Bea Joy restarted the cycle of life.
“She is my miracle. I had thought I would die with her still inside me when high waves came and took us all away,” she said, as her teary-eyed husband, Jobert, clasped the baby and a volunteer held an IV drip above them.
A survivor displays a wound suffered on the typhoon-ravaged streets of the Philippines
The husband said the first wave that came carried their wooden home in the coastal town of San Jose many metres inland, washing all of the family outside.
He said the entire community had been washed away, with the once picturesque area replaced by rubble and the bloated remains of people and animals.
“We are supposed to be celebrating today, but we are also mourning our dead,” Jobert said.
A survivor writes a message on the quayside to plead for help in Tacloban city.
He said it was God’s will that he found his wife floating amongst the debris.
They were carried away for what felt like hours until the water subsided, and they found themselves sheltering in a school building where other mud-soaked and injured survivors had huddled. The couple and their surviving neighbours subsisted there until yesterday morning on bottles of water they found among the debris.
The young military doctor who attended to Sagalis, Captain Victoriano Sambale, said the new mother had already broken her waters by the time the couple stepped inside the building, and then developed bleeding during the delivery.
“This is the first time we have delivered a baby here. The baby is fine and we have managed to stop the bleeding of the mother,” he said.
Survivors cover their noses from the stench of bodies left on streets
However, he cautioned doctors were extremely concerned about potential infections that could easily be caught amid the unsterile conditions, with the medical team almost powerless now to help her.
“Definitely the mother is still in danger from infection and sepsis (septicemia). So we need to give her intravenous antibiotics. Unfortunately, we ran out of even the oral antibiotics yesterday,” Sambale said.
The birth of Bea Joy provided a momentary sense of happiness, as dazed survivors begged for help and scavenged for food, water and medicine after the typhoon killed an estimated 10,000 in the central Philippines.
President Benigno Aquino declared a state of national calamity and deployed hundreds of soldiers in the coastal city of Tacloban to quell looting.
Survivors walk by a large ship after it was washed ashore by strong waves caused by powerful Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban city
The huge scale of death and destruction from Friday’s storm become clearer as reports emerged of thousands of people missing and images showed apocalyptic scenes in one town that has not been reached by rescue workers.
One of the most powerful storms ever recorded, typhoon Haiyan levelled Basey, a seaside town in Samar province about 10km across a bay from Tacloban in Leyte province, where at least 10,000 people were killed, according to officials.
About 2,000 people were missing in Basey, said the governor of Samar province.
“The situation is bad, the devastation has been significant. In some cases, the devastation has been total,” secretary to the cabinet Rene Almendras told reporters.
The United Nations said officials in Tacloban, which bore the brunt of the storm on Friday, had reported one mass grave of 300-500 bodies. More than 600,000 people were displaced by the storm across the country and some have no access to food, water, or medicine.
Flattened by surging waves and monster winds up to 235mph, Tacloban, 580km (360 miles) south-east of Manila, was relying almost entirely for supplies and evacuation on just three military transport planes flying from nearby Cebu city.
Survivors fill the streets to the downtown area as they race for supplies
In a nationwide broadcast, Aquino said the government was focusing relief and assistance efforts on Samar and Leyte provinces, which acted as “funnels for the storm surges”.
The declaration of a state of national calamity should quicken rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts. It will also allow the government to use state funds for relief and rehabilitation and control prices. Aquino said the government had set aside 18.7bn pesos (€323m) for rehabilitation.
More bad weather was on the way with a depression due to bring rain to the central and southern Philippines today.
Three days after the typhoon made landfall, bodies litter the streets of Tacloban, rotting and swelling under the sun. People covered their noses with rags or old clothes to mask the stench.
International aid agencies said relief resources in the largely Roman Catholic Philippines were stretched thin after a 7.2 magnitude quake in central Bohol province last month and displacement caused by a conflict with Muslim rebels in southern Zamboanga province.
Twenty-one countries pledged to send relief, including Indonesia, United States, Britain, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and Hungary, Aquino said.
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