TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines - Thousands of typhoon survivors swarmed the airport here on Tuesday, seeking a flight out, but only a few hundred made it, leaving behind a shattered city short of food and water and littered with bodies.
As two Philippine Air Force C-130s arrived just after dawn at the destroyed Daniel Romualdez Airport, more than 3,000 people surged to the tarmac past a broken iron fence to try and get on the aircraft, but soldiers and policemen held them back.
Mothers raised their babies high above their heads in the rain in hopes of getting aboard. One woman in her 30s lay on a stretcher, shaking uncontrollably.
Only a few managed to board.
"I was pleading with the soldiers. I was kneeling and begging because I have diabetes," said Helen Cordial, whose house was destroyed during the typhoon. "Do they want me to die in this airport? They have hearts of stone."
A second stampede occurred Tuesday afternoon when people rushed to a US Air Force C-130 to try and get out of the city. But they were driven back by the police.
'Back to primitive age'
"This is a wake-up call for us," Supt. Rafel Doron, chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection Service in Southern Leyte, said after seeing the destruction caused by Supertyphoon "Yolanda" around the city of 220,000 people.
Doron said his team's efforts to help city residents were not enough, given the magnitude of the destruction that befell Tacloban and other badly hit places in Eastern Samar.
Money seemed to have no value in the city-people would rather have food, water, electricity and means of communication. "The city has been thrown back to the primitive age," Doron said.