Panic Spreads in Typhoon-Ravaged Philippines

[photo: AFP]

[photo: AFP]

MANILA — Five days after Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the central Philippines, panic was spreading Wednesday and parched, hungry residents were resorting to increasingly desperate measures, including breaking into the homes of the dead.

Eight people were crushed to death when a huge crowd stormed a rice warehouse near Tacloban, one of the worst-hit cities, authorities said. More than 100,000 bags of rice were carted away in the melee, according to news reports Wednesday.

Elsewhere, residents dug up underground pipes and smashed them open to get water.

The official death toll stood at 2,275, but aid workers feared it would continue to grow. The United Nations estimates that more than 11 million people were affected by the storm, one of the most powerful ever to make landfall.

As concerns grew about rampant looting and lawlessness, Philippine security forces sent reinforcements and imposed a nighttime curfew in Tacloban. Armed assailants have been holding up aid convoys headed to the city. On Tuesday, troops killed two suspected communist rebels who attacked one such convoy, the military said.

Local officials said bands of looters, having cleaned out shops in Tacloban, were beginning to break into the homes of people who had died or fled the city. But there were reports that newly arrived troops were restoring order.

Flights delivering aid from around the world are arriving at the airport in Cebu, which has been turned into a logistics hub for the relief effort. The many donations included a field hospital from Belgium and a portable purification plant from Germany, according to European officials.

By the end of the day Wednesday, the United States had delivered nearly 274,000 pounds of supplies to Tacloban, about 100 miles northeast of Cebu, said two senior Obama administration officials who briefed reporters in Washington on condition of anonymity. The shipments included plastic tarps, hygiene kits, blankets and medical supplies.

U.S. military personnel had also evacuated about 800 people from Tacloban to Manila for medical treatment.

Philippine welfare personnel loaded up packages of rice and canned food provided by the World Food Program and distributed them to nearly 50,000 Tacloban residents. But even there, where the bulk of assistance has been delivered, bodies still lined the streets because, authorities said, there were not enough hands to remove them.

Hundreds of additional Marines are expected to arrive in the Philippines by week’s end to bolster the relief effort, which has struggled against logistical hurdles and the scale of the devastation.

Read more at The Los Angeles Times 

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