More than a hundred bodies piled up on the streets of the coastal city of Tacloban, as officials in the Philippines rush body bags to distraught areas. Catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan left countless casualties.
Soldiers who arrived to the scene requested more bags when they saw the devastation and build up. A military spokesman, Jim Aris Alagao, said, “there are numbers of undetermined casualties.”
The airport is housing many Filipinos anticipating the military will supply food, water and medicine during the crisis.
The streets are flooded with water to the waist, which makes walking difficult. Flipped vehicles, knocked over power lines and fallen trees, block other transportation.
Officials have not yet been able to reach devastated areas. The number of casualties is expected to rise given that it is one of the strongest storms in recorded history. In Talcloban, Captain John Andrews reported that in addition to the current death toll, there are also over a hundred people injured.
According to storm reports, the typhoon covered an area the size of Montana. Winds reached 195mph while gusts reached as high as 235mph. Coastal areas flooded first and the power went out blocking all communications.
Friday, the typhoon swept through the island of Samar then continued into five other islands in the Philippines. Saturday, winds calmed to 130mph and the typhoon was downgraded.
Aerial surveying has begun as Philippine military travel as far as 18 hours to reach the worst hit areas helicopters.
The Pacific Ocean is the most active area for tropical cyclones. The Philippines is located on the western rim, which is privy to storms because of vast depths of warm water.
The country has more than 7,000 with a population around 92 million people. Experts assume the casualties will skyrocket once aid workers and military reach the more remote and devastated areas.
Currently, it is known that around 125,000 people are seeking refuge in designated evacuation centers.
The Philippines has an average of nine tropical cyclones per year. Six storms touched land this year, which is low, compared to 1993, where 19 came ashore.
Tropical cyclones are both classified as typhoons and hurricanes. It depends on their location for the classification. A strong “super typhoon” is considered equal to a category 4 or 5 hurricane.
Super typhoon Haiyan is considered to be the strongest cyclone to touch land in recorded history. Vietnam has already begun storm preparations including evacuations, as the typhoon is expected to arrive there Saturday.
The US Department of State has offered to provide assistance to military by providing aircraft and qualified personnel. Community events are scheduled in Alexandria, Virginia by the National Federation of Filipino American Associations to raise money.
Before Lieutenant Jim Aris Alagao told news agencies that the military will “have to send the requested 100 body bags” to the area, a photo trended on Twitter with #StrongerPH hashtag carrying the caption “the Filipino spirit is stronger than any typhoon.”
By Cayce Manesiotis