In Yolanda's wake, more than 100 bodies found in Tacloban streets; city airport 'ruined' - CAAP exec
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MANILA - (UPDATE 1:40PM) More than 100 bodies are lying in the streets of Tacloban after being hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda, an aviation authority chief said Saturday, and the Cabinet secretary said the report was being verified by disaster agencies.
John Andrews, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said the Tacloban airport manager had radioed the head office in Manila to report "100-plus dead, lying on the streets, with 100 plus injured".
Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said Saturday officials are verifying reports about more than 100 fatalities in Tacloban City, one of the areas worst hit by super typhoon âYolandaâ.
âWeâre still verifying the report and thus we canât confirm that as of the moment,â Almendras told a news briefing before noon at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
He was asked about news, which Capt. Andrews broke in a television interview, that over 100 bodies were found in Tacloban, where storm surges of from 10 to 14 feet swept through city streets. Andrews was quoted saying the bodies were âlying on the streetsâ.
Similar information was relayed by Lt. Jim Alagao, spokesman of the Armed Forces Central Command (Centcom) based in Cebu City: âJust in: Reports from our units in Tacloban City. There are numbers of undetermined casualties found along the roads. As to the estimate, the report says âmadaming madamiâ.â However, he acknowledged tyhis could not be confirmed 100 percent; and whether the number of fatalities was counted as they were retrieved, or whether the bodies are already in body bags.Â
âItâs the NDRRMC and Office of Civil Defense that have the authority to confirm this,â he said.
Alagao said clearing operations were ongoing. The Philippine National Police (PNP) sent 150 police personnel to help in the clearing and search and rescue operations in Tacloban.
Available data from NDRRMC officially recorded 4 dead, 7 injured and 4 missing, though officials conceded the casualty count could rise after communications, which went completely down in many areas in the Visayas, are restored and more reports come in from the field.
The fatalities were 2 from Surigao del Sur, 1 from Zamboanga City and 1 from Iloilo. Local news reports, meanwhile, said there were 3 confirmed dead in Palawan and 1 from San Jacinto, Masbate.
The NDRRMC said nearly 4 million people were affected by Yolanda across 36 provinces in nine regions.
'Reliable information' - Andrews
"This report [of 100 bodies on streets] was relayed to us by our station manager so it is considered very reliable information," Andrews earlier told ABS-CBN television in an interview.
"According to the station manager the airport is completely ruined."
Tacloban is the capital of Leyte, a large island of about two million people that was hit by Yolanda on Friday morning when the storm was at its strongest, knocking out all its communication facilities.
Andrews said the information about the deaths was relayed by high-frequency radio to the authorities.
Local television GMA network reported that storm surges had hit Tacloban and nearby Palo town on its east coast.
Its reporter said he counted at least 31 bodies, including 20 at the Palo church.
Philippine authorities are now rushing rescuers and communication equipment to the island.
Five other people have been confirmed killed elsewhere in the central Philippines.
Yolanda hurtled into Leyte and nearby Samar island with maximum sustained winds of around 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour, making it the strongest typhoon in the world this year and one of the most intense ever to make landfall.
It swept across the central and southern Philippines throughout the day before exiting into the South China Sea and tracking towards Vietnam.