Correction: Philippines-Typhoon story

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Updated: December 7, 2013 - 12:00 AM

TACLOBAN, Philippines — In a story Nov. 11 about Typhoon Haiyan, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that a tsunami in the south in 1976 killed 5,791 people. The actual number is 4,791 dead, according to a 1978 study by the Special Committee on Tsunami Warning System of the National Committee on Marine Sciences, National Science Development Board.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Desperate survivors seek to flee typhoon zone

Typhoon survivors swarm airport, desperate to leave a city littered with bodies

By TODD PITMAN and JIM GOMEZ

Associated Press

TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — Thousands of typhoon survivors swarmed the airport here on Tuesday seeking a flight out, but only a few hundred made it, leaving behind a shattered, rain-lashed city short of food and water and littered with countless bodies.

Four days after Typhoon Haiyan struck the eastern Philippines, assistance is only just beginning to arrive. Authorities estimated the storm killed 10,000 or more across a vast swath of the country, and displaced around 660,000 others.

Tacloban, a city of about 220,000 people on Leyte island, bore the full force of the winds and the tsunami-like storm surges. Most of the city is in ruins, a tangled mess of destroyed houses, cars and trees. Malls, garages and shops have all been stripped of food and water by hungry residents.

The United Nations said it had had released $25 million in emergency funds and was launching an emergency appeal for money.

Just after dawn Tuesday, two Philippine Air Force C-130s arrived at its destroyed airport along with several commercial and private flights. More than 3,000 people who camped out at the building surged onto the tarmac past a broken iron fence to get on the aircraft. Just a dozen soldiers and several police held them back.

Mothers raised their babies high above their heads in the rain, in hopes of being prioritized. One woman in her 30s lay on a stretcher, shaking uncontrollably. Only a small number managed to board.

"I was pleading with the soldiers. I was kneeling and begging because I have diabetes," said Helen Cordial, whose house was destroyed in the storm. "Do they want me to die in this airport? They are stone hearted."

Most residents spent the night under pouring rain wherever they could — in the ruins of destroyed houses, in the open along roadsides and shredded trees. Some slept under tents brought in by the government or relief groups.

Local doctors said they were desperate for medicines. Beside the ruined airport tower, at a small makeshift clinic with shattered windows, army and air force medics said they had treated around 1,000 people since the typhoon for cuts, bruises, lacerations, deep wounds.

"It's overwhelming," said Air Force Capt. Antonio Tamayo. "We need more medicine. We cannot give anti-tetanus vaccine shots because we have none."

International aid groups and militaries are rushing assistance to the region, but little has arrived. Government officials and police and army officers have all been caught up in the disaster themselves, hampering coordination.

The USS George Washington aircraft carrier was expected to arrive off the coast in about two days, according to the Pentagon. A similar sized U.S. ship, and its fleet of helicopters capable of dropping tons of water daily and evacuating wounded, was credited with saving scores of lives after the 2004 Asian tsunami.

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