Officials in the Philippines have appealed for calm as emergency and aid workers struggle to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. The now significantly weakened storm has made landfall in northern Vietnam and China.
Vietnam’s national weather agency said Haiyan has been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it made landfall in the northern province of Quang Ninh at about 5 a.m. local time (UTC+7) on Monday. It also reached southern China, bringing torrential rain.
The US Joint Typhoon Warning Center said the storm was still packing winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kilometers per hour) when it made landfall about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of the capital, Hanoi.
This is in sharp contrast to the sustained winds of 195 miles per hour or more that battered the Philippines on Friday, when it was still one of the strongest storms on record.
Typhoon Haiyan wreaked havoc in parts of the Philippines, particularly in the central island province of Leyte, where one senior police officer said on Sunday that there were indications that as many as 10,000 may have been killed in Leytealone.
The level of destruction is leading to growing concerns among the authorities about maintaining order in the affected areas.
“It is sad that the situation is leading to desperation,” a spokesman for the Philippines National Police Force, Senior Superintendent Reuben Sindac said on Monday.
“We cannot begin to understand the situation of those affected, but this is no reason to resort to crime and violence,” he said in an interview with a Manila radio station. “We cannot allow anarchy to reign,” he added, referring to reports of looting in the provincial capital of Leyte, Tacloban.
President Benigno Aquino, who visited Tacloban on Sunday, said that part of the problem was that only 20 police officers had turned up for work in the city. He said an additional 300 police and soldiers would be sent in to help “bring back peace and order.”
Officials were only beginning to grasp the scale of the disaster on Sunday, as rescuers and emergency workers contended with roads blocked by uprooted trees and other debris, as well as damaged airports, hampering efforts to deliver urgently needed supplies.
“This area has been totally ravaged”, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Tacloban, Sebastien Sujobert, told the Associated Press on Monday.
“Many lives were lost, a huge number of people are missing, and basic services such as drinking water and electricity have been cut off,” he added.
International help on the way
The Red Cross is just one of numerous aid agencies responding to the disaster in the Philippines. News of the devastation and suffering caused by Haiyan has led aid agencies backed by national governments to launch a major relief effort.
The official death toll in the Philippines was expected to climb into the thousands despite the authorities having ordered the evacuation of around 800,000 people from their homes in anticipation of the typhoon’s arrival. The Associated Press cited unnamed officials who said that many of the relatively sturdy brick-and-mortar schools, churches or government buildings to which the evacuees had been brought, simply proved no match for the wind gusts and water surges delivered by Typhoon Haiyan.
pfd/dr (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)