Fear of Widespread Disease Fuels Woes in the Philippines
(TACLOBAN, Philippines) -- Rescuers arriving in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan are dealing with horrible scenes of misery and suffering as fears grow about a massive outbreak of disease resulting from thousands of decaying bodies.
As many as 10 million people were affected by the monster storm that whipped through 41 provinces last week. Estimates that the death toll could reach 10,000 are also expected to be revised upwards.
The problem now is reaching towns and villages completely devastated by the typhoon. If decomposing bodies aren't soon collected, survivors may be exposed to deadly cholera, which could overwhelm medical personnel sent to help in the disaster. Adding to the problems are looters stealing food and medical supplies by hijacking aid trucks heading to the hardest-hit areas, such as Tacloban, the capital of Leyte. Chaos also erupted at Tacloban's airport, where thousands broke through a metal fence to try and find a seat on departing military flights.
Interrupted telephone service has made communication with disaster areas in the central Philippines nearly impossible. Brigadier-General Domingo Tutaan, spokesman for the Philippine armed forces, remarked, ''I have been in the service for 32 years and I have been involved with a lot of calamities…I don't have words to describe what our ground commanders are seeing in the field."
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