1 month after super typhoon, Philippines faces huge challenges

1 month after super typhoon, Philippines faces huge challenges

TACLOBAN, Philippines - A month after one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded hit the Philippines, masses of survivors are living amid rubble in rebuilt shanty homes and experts say reconstructing destroyed communities will take years.

The sight of people sleeping and cooking in wasteland towns highlights the overwhelming problems as an initial, frenzied emergency relief effort transforms into one focused on long-term rehabilitation.

"A lot of people have received emergency assistance, but this is just the beginning," Matthew Cochrane, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the worst-hit city of Tacloban, told AFP.

The Philippines endures more than 20 major storms a year but Super Typhoon Haiyan was the most destructive on record, with at least 5,796 people killed and another 1,779 missing, according to government data.

Haiyan also made history as having the strongest winds ever recorded to make landfall, striking the eastern island of Samar with gusts of 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour.

But surprise storm surges proved to be more devastating than the winds, sending walls of water up to two storeys high through dozens of mostly poor coastal communities on Samar and neighbouring Leyte island.

More than a million homes were damaged or destroyed, while water rushed through schools and other supposedly safe coastal buildings that were serving as evacuation centres, killing many people sheltering there.

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