I don’t know which of the 120 or so Malayo-Polynesian languages might be being spoken here, but it really needs no translation.

From the Guardian:

The distance from the airport to the centre of town is just seven miles by road, but the journey can easily take six hours. To get to Tacloban, the small city in Leyte province in the Philippines that was flattened on Friday by typhoon Haiyan, you have to manoeuvre through piled up bodies, uprooted trees, jagged pieces of debris and survivors staggering around searching for food, water and supplies.

The coastal city of 222,000 inhabitants bore the brunt of the 195mph winds of the strongest storm ever recorded, tearing off roofs and destroying evacuation centres.

Storm surges six metres (20ft) in height turned roads into rivers of sewage and seawater, landing whole ships on top of houses, and obliterating bridges and roads.

At least 10,000 people are thought to have died so far in Leyte province alone, with the toll expected to rise.

From the liveblog at the Guardian:

All systems, all vestiges of modern living communications, power, water all are down. There is no way to communicate with the people.

However, there was even less news of the destruction on Samar, the island just to the north of Leyte island. Leo Dacaynos of Samar’s provincial disaster office was quoted by AP as saying 300 people were confirmed dead in one town alone, with another 2,000 missing, while some towns had yet to be reached by rescuers. There was no mobile phone signal, he added, making communication possible only by radio.

It’s worth reiterating that for all the obvious destructive power of sustained wind speeds of almost 200mph, it was the associated storm surge – the rush of water into coastal areas – which caused the worst damage in Tacloban, and most likely many of the deaths. The storm surge in Tacloban was estimated at 6m, sweeping away even concrete buildings, and bringing the sort of devastation so reminiscent of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

 Armored vehicles sent by President The AFP news agency has perhaps the most through round-up of events in the Philippines, which you can read in full here. This is an excerpt about looting in Tacloban. It’s worth noting that if you’re taking supplies to keep yourself and your family alive, as seems the case for many, “looting” isn’t the best word.

From AFP:

Hundreds of police and soldiers were deployed to contain looters in Tacloban, the devastated provincial capital of Leyte, while the United States announced it had responded to a Philippine government appeal and would send military help.

“Tacloban is totally destroyed. Some people are losing their minds from hunger or from losing their families,” high school teacher Andrew Pomeda, 36, told AFP, as he warned of the increasing desperation of survivors.

“People are becoming violent. They are looting business establishments, the malls, just to find food, rice and milk… I am afraid that in one week, people will be killing from hunger.”

Yeah, phooey.  The Guardian liveblog again, photos, videos included; the first photo is a dilly:

“The huge waves came again and again, flushing us out on the street and washing away our homes,” Mirasol Saoyi, 27, told AFP near Tacloban’s seaside sports stadium, where thousands of people had gathered after it withstood the typhoon. My husband tied us together, but still we got separated among the debris. I saw many people drowning, screaming and going under… I haven’t found my husband.” [snip]

On the outskirts of Tacloban… Edward Gualberto accidentally stepped on bodies as he raided the wreckage of a home.

Wearing nothing but a pair of red basketball trousers, the father-of-four and village councillor apologised for his shabby appearance and for stealing from the dead.

“I am a decent person. But if you have not eaten in three days, you do shameful things to survive,” Gualberto told AFP as he dug canned goods from the debris and flies swarmed over the bodies. “We have no food, we need water and other things to survive.”  After half a day’s work, he had filled a bag with an assortment of essentials including packs of spaghetti, cans of beer, detergent, soap, canned goods, biscuits and candies. “This typhoon has stripped us of our dignity… but I still have my family and I am thankful for that.”


It’s well past midnight in the Philippines and time for a summary of what we know so far of the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan

International relief efforts are beginning after Haiyan caused devastation in parts of the Philippines, with initial – and very rough – estimates predicting that 10,000 people could have died.

The area known to have been especially badly affected was the coastal city of Tacloban, which is littered with bodies and where the majority of buildings have been destroyed. However, initial reports are emerging of devastation elsewhere on Leyte island, on the northern tip of Cebu, and on Samar.

Survivors have talked of people being swept away by a huge storm surge. Many thousands are now homeless, with no access to shelter, food or clean water. Some people have taken to ransacking shops and homes in desperation, and the government has considered imposing martial law.

Aid has begun to arrive, although agencies say the operation has been greatly hampered by blocked roads and ports and airports being out of action. US Marines have been flown from Japan to help with logistics, while David Cameron has pledged £6m of British cash and the EU has promised €3m euros.

The typhoon is making landfall in northern Vietnam. While the winds have weakened somewhat, hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated amid fears the heavy rain could cause landslides.

From Simon Redfern at theconversation.com:

The recent IPCC report on climate change highlighted the risks associated with changes in the patterns and frequency of extreme weather events. While individual storms such as Haiyan cannot be directly attributed to such changes, the statistics of such storms will help build a picture of how climate change is affecting the planet. Climatologists are keen to develop models that provide accurate risk factors for tropical cyclones.

As the planet and particularly the oceans heat, simple physics indicates that the energy stored is likely to increase the intensity and frequency of devastating storms like Haiyan, at great cost to coastal communities.

I have no opinion on any of this; if you do, or other ideas of where to contribute to relief organizations, please say so.  From Reuters, a link to mobilegiving.org, with shortcodes for $10 pledges:

  • Text HOPE to 777444 to donate $10.00 on behalf of World Vision
  • Text RELIEF to 864233 to donate $10.00 on behalf of UNICEF
  • Text RELIEF to 25383 to donate $10.00 to Catholic Relief Services


We’d been discussing the typhoon for a couple days at Cafe-Babylon, and juliania said that she was putting a candle in her window.  I like that idea a lot.  If juliania or mafr come by and might agree to host, or anyone else for that matter, I’d appreciate it.  I’m having, as they say, ‘a bit of a day’…

A musical blessing?  Guess I’ll have to go with the Ave…