Nov 14, 2013

    Typhoon survivors storm warehouse


    EIGHT people were crushed to death as a huge crowd of typhoon survivors stormed a rice warehouse near the devastated city of Tacloban, a Philippine official said yesterday


    "One wall of our warehouses collapsed and eight people were crushed and killed instantly" on Tuesday, Mr Rex Estoperez, spokesman for the National Food Authority, the government's rice trading agency, said.

    Police, soldiers and private security teams were guarding the storeroom in Alangalang town, 17km from Tacloban, but were overpowered by the crowd, who carted off more than 100,000 bags of rice, Mr Estoperez added.

    Five days after Haiyan ripped apart entire coastal communities, the situation in Leyte's provincial capital Tacloban was becoming ever more dire, with essential supplies low and increasingly desperate survivors clamouring to leave.

    "Everyone is panicking," Captain Emily Chang, a navy doctor, said.

    Some areas appeared to teeter near anarchy. ANC Television said security forces exchanged fire with armed men amid widespread looting of shops and warehouses for food, water and other supplies in the village of Abucay, part of worst-hit Tacloban.

    Some survivors in Tacloban dug up water pipes in a desperate bid for water.

    "We sourced our water from an underground pipe that we have smashed. We don't know if it's safe. We need to boil it. But at least we have something," said Mr Christopher Dorano, 38.

    Police were working to keep order across the ravaged wasteland. An 8pm-to-5am curfew was in place.

    "We have restored order," said Carmelo Espina Valmoria, director of the Philippine National Police special action force. "There has been looting for the last three days, (but) the situation has stabilised."

    Overwhelmed and under-resourced rescue workers have been unable to provide food, water, medicine, shelter and other relief supplies to many survivors, but rescuers have reached some previously cut-off regions.

    The World Health Organisation said teams from Belgium, Japan, Israel and Norway had arrived to set up field hospitals. More than 250 members of US forces were on the ground, too, and aircraft carrier USS George Washington will arrive later this week.