Tacloban starts clean up drive of massive debris; unidentified fatalities are in temporary shallow graves


The official count of fatalities of Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) was raised by the government to 3,976 persons reported dead as of 6:00 PM of November 17, with 18,175 injured and 1,590 missing.

A total of 2,182,312 families or 10,174,296 individuals affected in 10,312 villages in 44 provinces, 574 towns and 57 cities of Regions Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Eastern visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Caraga and Davao.

Of these numbers, 836,612 families or 3,946,146 individuals were displace and served both inside and outside evacuation centers. Confined in 1,530 evacuation centers are 72,986 familes or 349,870 persons while those outside the center total 763,626 families equivalent to 3,596,276 individuals.

As the numbers rise authorities start the massive clean-up in Tacloban city of corpses and debris littered on the streets and sidewalks in the aftermath of the devastation brought about by the typhoon.

“The remaining decomposing dead bodies and tons of debris scattered on the streets have been collected today,” Jun Dulcisimo, a city resident of Tacoban, said in a text message to the PNA. “Streets are now clean,” he added.

Dulcisimo also said that a task force composed of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority deployed in the city helped in the clean-up.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the city government retrieved 762 bodies lying on the streets. They were placed in cadaver bags and later buried in mass graves.

Tacloban which has a population of over 230,000 people was the worst-hit area by the deadly fury the typhoon.

Dulcisimo also confirmed that helicopters from the Philippine Air Force and the US Navy distributed relief goods to far flung areas in Leyte and Samar islands.

Soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US Army were also helping in the distribution of packed food and water to typhoon victims, he added.

Dulcisimo also said city residents expressed their thanks to the international and local media for helping speed up the delivery of relief goods through their news reporting to the world the need for food, water, medicines and other relief goods.

“This is an early Christmas gifts for us,” he said. An estimated 3 million people on the path of the typhoon have been displaced across the typhoon affected regions, according to the Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center. They also report 244,000 homes were totally destroyed.

Massive rehabilitation is underway. Telecommunications have been gradually restored and people can now contact relatives living across the Philippines and the world.

On the ground, responders are focusing on the immediate life-saving needs of food and water as operations to deliver speed up.

“There are still logistical difficulties to overcome; we already have roads cleared and managed to access the fuel required. However, the numbers of trucks to load and distribute aid are barely enough and we are extremely concerned with the most vulnerable people including people with poor mobile capacity,” said Ms. Luiza Carvalho, humanitarian and resident coordinator.

The full extent of the damage inflicted by the typhoon is yet to be realized. As each day passes more data and information become available.

“What is certain is that the people affected by Typhoon Haiyan will continue to need support for a long time to come,” she said. (with PNA report by Ben Cal)

Later on Sunday Malacanang assured the public a system is now in place to identify the fatalities.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said such a system was outlined by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

“We will follow the protocol for identifying the dead. But we may temporarily bury the remains in a shallow grave instead of leaving them on the street,” he said on government-controlled radio station dzRB.

Coloma also said Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin took up other measures to address the matter.


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