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Thousands try to leave Tacloban as Haiyan aid trickles in


Philippines

Thousands try to leave Tacloban as Haiyan aid trickles in

Thousands of people desperate to leave typhoon-stricken areas in the Philippines have besieged Tacloban airport.

Although some aid has begun to arrive, those at the airport gates have not been receiving it.

Some have set up makeshift tents as they wait, hoping to board one of the departing flights. “Help us,” read slogans scrawled on signs.

“We put our names on the list last night and so far we’ve not had our turn to board the aircraft. We’ve been going back and forth. I feel bad for my child because we don’t even have any water,” said one woman, in tears as she waited at the airport.

Despair is growing among many survivors of Typhoon Haiyan amid a chronic shortage of food, water and medicine.

President Benigno Aquino has said the loss of life is closer to 2,000 or 2,500 rather than the previous estimate of 10,000. But local officials and aid workers have greeted the comments with scepticism.

The authorities have denied reports that the military fired shots near a bridge in Leyte, or that law and order had broken down in Tacloban.

There has been widespread looting which the city’s administrator Tecson John Lim described as “self-preservation” not “criminality”.

He said 90 percent of the coastal city of 220,000 people had been destroyed, with only 20 percent of residents receiving aid. Houses were now being looted because warehouses were empty, he added.

Eight people were crushed to death when a wall collapsed as a government stockpile of rice was looted in the town of Alangalang.

Warehouses owned by food and drinks company Universal Robina
Corp and drug company United Laboratories were ransacked in the storm-hit town of Palo in Leyte, along with a rice mill in Jaro, said Alfred Li, head of the Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Rescuers have reached some regions previously cut off, such as Guiuan, a wind-swept city of 40,000 people that was spared the storm surge that washed over Tacloban.

US military planes have been delivering supplies; 5,000 American sailors and 80 aircraft are due to arrive later this week aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

The World Health Organisation says teams from Belgium, Japan, Israel and Norway have arrived to set up field hospitals.

Preventing disease is a priority as many bodies still lie out in the open air.

The Philippines government says it has been overwhelmed by Haiyan but has defended its response to the disaster.

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