The death toll in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan has escalated sharply and many fear may be counted as high as 10,000 if not more. The storm raged through the Philippines and is now heading to Vietnam. Catholic Relief Services reports that the hardest-hit areas in the Philippines have no water, no food, no electricity or other supplies. More than 3 million people lived in the direct path of the storm, the most powerful Pacific storm of the year and perhaps the most powerful storm ever, and as many as 10 million have been affected by it. The Philippine government has officially welcomed international assistance. Survivors are being forced to deal with horrific scenes as they make their way through streets choked with debris and the bodies of the typhoon's victims.
Joe Curry, C.R.S. Philippines country representative, said, "Catholic Relief Services, our partners and other aid agencies are in the process of mobilizing resources to help the government and the most affected areas. The typhoon was powerful and expansive, hitting a number of islands. It did not weaken as it passed through and hit a number of islands as a super typhoon. Based on other typhoons, like Typhoon Bopha last year, we can expect that this was a catastrophic typhoon, not only for one island but many."
Curry said the typhoon surely hit the region's poorest the hardest. "The areas that were hit are largely rural," he said. "In rural areas, anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of the population would be very poor, including farmers and fishermen, earning around $2-3 per day. The poorest are the people who are most affected by disasters like this. They live in the most fragile houses that are susceptible to damage." Many in the area were already displaced by a recent earthquake.
The islands of Leyte and Samar have severe damage, according to UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams which conducted aerial assessments. UNDAC teams described destruction on the scale of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Judging from the meteorological data on the wind speeds and storm surge, as well as regional poverty statistics, C.R.S. emergency planners assume that in other parts of the Visayas islands the scale of the destruction will be vast. Water, hygiene and sanitation, food, medicine, shelter, debris clearance, logistics and communications are immediate priorities, according to the government. Telecommunications and logistics are the major challenges which means there is still a lack of information from key hard-hit areas; technicians from major telecommunications companies are currently working on restoring the network including Telecoms Sans Frontiere are expected to increase as more information becomes available.
Catholic aid agencies preparing to help Filipinos affected by Typhoon Haiyan, are seeking donations. Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based international network of Catholic aid agencies, was accepting donations on its website. Catholic Relief Services, a Caritas network member in the United States, had a “Donate Now&rd