1,400 Yolanda victims remain unburied in Tacloban village
The online news portal of TV5
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- More than a thousand dead victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) lay unburied Saturday, seven weeks after Eastern Visayas was battered by the Philippines' deadliest storm, residents living alongside the stench said.
About 1,400 corpses, in sealed black body bags swarming with flies, lay on a muddy open field in San Isidro, a farming village on the outskirts of Tacloban, an AFP reporter saw.
"The stench has taken away our appetite. Even in our sleep, we have to wear face masks," said local housewife Maritess Pedrosa, who lives in a house about 20 meters from the roadside city government property.
Yolanda killed at least 6,111 people with 1,779 others missing when it struck on November 8, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
This made the storm, which also left 4.4 million people homeless, one of the deadliest natural disasters in Philippine history.
Tacloban and nearby towns were devastated by tsunami-like giant waves that accounted for a majority of the dead.
NDRRMC spokesman Reynaldo Balido said he was unsure if the official death toll already included the cadavers in San Isidro.
Eutiquio Balunan, the local village chief, said government workers assigned to collect the typhoon dead began trucking them to San Isidro on November 10, where they have been exposed to the tropical heat and heavy seasonal rainshowers.
There, state forensics experts try to identify the corpses, he told AFP.
The processed corpses are then turned over to relatives, while those that are unclaimed are tagged and taken to a mass grave at the city cemetery about three kilometers away.
"Our tally comprises those already the disaster council spokesman told AFP.
Balunan said the processing of the cadavers had been suspended over the Christmas weekend as the forensics experts went on holiday.
"We are requesting the city government to please bury the cadavers because our children and elderly residents are getting sick," he said. "This place has become a fly factory."
The cadavers are guarded by eight policemen.
One officer who asked not to be named said they are under orders to prevent the cadavers from being eaten by stray dogs.
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