In Tacloban, desperate residents beg for help

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Police forensics personnel line up bodies for processing.  Bullit Marquez, AP	TACLOBAN, Philippines — Boats lie tossed on the shore here. Whole roofs and trees smother cars and rickshaws. Streets look more like garbage dumps, piled high with split wood, broken glass, concrete chunks.
But it is the small belongings that stand out. A teddy bear here, a toy fishing net there, all swept into the streets by Typhoon Haiyan, also called Yolanda. And the stench.
Formerly a city of 220,000 people, Tacloban has no idea how many remain. Officials here still think at least 10,000 died but have accounted only for close to 2,000 victims, two of them Americans.
President Benigno Aquino says the toll may be lower than first feared. But here, bloated corpses still lay alongside roads covered partly by sheets and corrugated metal. People cover their noses as they walked past.
As conditions grow more desperate, eight people were crushed to death when survivors stormed a government rice warehouse at Alangalang in Leyte province, Rex Estoperez, spokesman for the National Food Authority of the Philippines, said Wednesday.
The dead were crushed when a wall collapsed. He said looters took more than 100,000 sacks of rice, and that police and soldiers were helpless against thousands of people.
STORY: A race to avert a public health crisis
The wretched landscape of this once vibrant tourist destination and economic hub shows just how badly the relief effort is going four days after Haiyan lashed the city for hours with winds of 147 mph and drove the sea in huge waves across thousands of blocks of homes and buildings.
Some survivors were angry Tuesday about the lack of food, fresh water and medical care. Filipino police and army officers enforced another night of a curfew to try and impose order on this city, which has had no electricity since Friday.
Neighborhoods are in total darkness at night, with the exception of some generator-produced light shining here and there. It's easy for looters and desperate people to steal and get away.
People were breaking into shops Tuesday. At one heavily damaged households goods store, dozens of people clambered through its ruined roof and threw scavenged items such as bathroom tissue to people below.
"I know it's not good to take but we are desperate and hungry," said Veronica Lucerno, who joined an earlier mass raid on a department store, now guarded by armed police.
"Some areas have already received government relief and the evacuation centers, but we've had nothing," said Lucerno, who was among thousands here whose homes are windowless, roofless wrecks.
In the brutally ripped up seaside town of Palo, just south of Tacloban on Leyte Gulf, Noel Onida, 36, was begging for assistance while people lined up for a drink at a working hose spigot.
"We need food and help. We need everything but no government supplies have come here, it's not as Manila says in the media," he said.
Medical supplies, pallets of water and food destined for Leyte island, where Tacloban city is located, were piled on trucks, planes and ferries on the neighboring island of Cebu and less-damaged parts of Leyte.
The aid was sent by the Philippine government and countries around the world but has not moved quickly to Leyte because its ports and bridges are wrecked, airports are not at full capacity and debris-clogged roads are impassable, said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
He said supply should increase in coming days now that an airport and a main bridge were open.
"We will help, no matter how difficult, no matter how inaccessible," he said.
Doctors said they were desperate for medicine. Beside the ruined airport tower, at a small makeshift clinic with shattered windows, army and air force medics said they had treated around 1,000 people for cuts, bruises and deep wounds.
"It's overwhelming," said Air Force Capt. Antonio Tamayo. "We need more medicine. We cannot give anti-tetanus vaccine shots because we have none."
More than 200 U.S. Marines were helping deliver food and water. The aircraft carrier USS George Washington was headed to the region with massive amounts of water and food, but the Pentagon said it won't arrive until Thursday.
The longer survivors go without access to clean water, food, shelter and medical help, the greater chance of disease breaking out and people dying as a result of wounds sustained in the storm, he said.
The United Nations says more than 11 million people are believed to have been affected and some 673,000 displaced.
Philippine President Aquino told CNN the estimate of 10,000 dead was "too high.'' He said the higher figure may have arisen from the "emotional trauma." But he said 29 municipalities had yet to be contacted to establish the number of victims.
Two Americans are being counted among the victims. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that number could go up.
A team from Doctors Without Borders with medical supplies arrived in Cebu island on Saturday looking for a flight to Tacloban but on Tuesday had to make the short trip across Leyte Gulf.
"We are in contact with the authorities, but the (Tacloban) airport is only for the Philippines military use," spokesman Lee Pik Kwan said in a telephone interview.
Desperate Filipinos were trying to get out rather than wait for help. Thousands camped at the airport and ran onto the tarmac when planes came in, surging past a broken iron fence and a few soldiers and police trying to control them. Most didn't make it aboard departing planes.
"We need help. Nothing is happening," said Aristone Balute, an 81-year-old who didn't get on a flight. "We haven't eaten since yesterday afternoon."
Her clothes were soaked from the rain from a tropical storm that followed Haiyan and dumped more rain on the island overnight.
There was little evidence of an organized delivery of food, water or medical supplies for miles though piles of aid have begun to arrive at the recently cleared Tacloban airport.
The Philippine air force has been sending three C-130s back and forth to Tacloban from dawn to dusk from Cebu island, and had delivered 400,000 pounds of relief supplies by Tuesday, Lt. Col. Marciano Jesus Guevara said.
But the power outage meant planes were forbidden from landing and continuing deliveries through the night. And there are many places still that have not been reached.
"There is a huge amount that we need to do. We have not been able to get into the remote communities," U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said in Manila. "Even in Tacloban, because of the debris and the difficulties with logistics and so on, we have not been able to get in the level of supply that we would want to."
Local businessmen and farmers were giving up what they had. On the road west from Palo, thousands of people were lined up for sacks of rice in Jaro. A pig farm in Santa Fe gave away live hogs.
The pigs were taken away squealing on motorbikes and rickshaws.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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