Science, Tech & Environment

Typhoon survivors struggle to get food and water

This story is a part of

Human Needs
Updated:

This story is a part of

Human Needs

RTX15A3R.jpg

Tacloban residents cover their noses as they walk past debris as the stench of corpses permeates the air along a road in their devastated city.

Credit:

Erik De Castro/Reuters

Days after Typhoon Haiyan, survivors in the Philippine city of Tacloban are still waiting for help.

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Military cargo planes have been arriving, but the BBC's Jon Donnison, who's been reporting from the Philippines, says there's little sign of aid getting to the city's 200,000 residents, who are desperate for food, water and shelter.

"It is a bleak, bleak situation and people woke up this morning to the one thing they did not want to see: heavy, heavy rain. We were in one neighborhood which had been completely wiped out, reduced to a pile of wreckage."

"They were asking when help will be coming," says Donnison, "because you don’t get the sense there is any major aid operation underway in the city and it's now the fifth day since the typhoon struck."

Earlier on Tuesday, Donnison says a big food warehouse was ransacked — people stormed inside, grabbing anything they could get their hands on: pasta, chips, cookies.

"As long as aid doesn’t come, the situation is only going to get worse, and eventually people are going to run out of food altogether."

Kevin Vacca is one of the few people able to get in. He's an American missionary living in the Philippines and has managed to deliver some food to survivors on the devastated northern tip of Cebu Island. The situation there is getting worse and worse.

He says people living on the northern tip of Cebu island had not received any food for four days. Today, he made the trek to the devastated area with food for about 200 people. 

"We brought about 500 pounds of rice and we brought 75 cans of sardines. Now we're going to take another 500 pounds of rice in the morning," he says. "There's no more sardines to buy, so we're taking noodles." 

Fortunately, cooking the food hasn't been a problem.

"In the last few years, propane, bottled gas here, has gotten very expensive. So a lot of people in the countryside have gone back to cooking with wood or charcoal. If they can get rice, or fish or sardines or noodles, they can cook it," Vacca says.  "And they know how, even, to do the fire when it's raining. So, it's quite a bit of ingenuity when it comes to that." 

Vacca is planning to make another trip to the area Wednesday morning.

"We're dealing with a safety issue right now.  At night it's impossible because there are thousands of people lining the roads begging. And, of course, no one has money," he said. "There's no teller machines working and most of the banks have been destroyed. Those people haven't eaten in four days, so at some point desperate people do desperate things."

  • RTX159BB.jpg

    Children hold signs asking for help and food along the highway, after Typhoon Haiyan hit Tabogon town in Cebu Province.

    Credit:

    (REUTERS/Charlie Saceda)