TACLOBAN, Philippines - Gunfire forced the cancellation of a mass burial in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines on Wednesday as authorities struggled to dispose of the dead, while anger among survivors at the slow trickle of aid turned deadly.
Thousands of people jostled and begged for seats on scarce flights out of the ruined city of Tacloban, where putrefying corpses compounded a growing health menace after one of the strongest storms on record killed thousands.
Attempts to bury some of the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan suffered a setback when gunshots halted a convoy travelling towards a communal grave.
"We had finished digging the mass burial site. We had the truck loaded with bodies... but... there was some shooting," Tacloban mayor Alfred Romualdez told AFP. "They could not proceed."
Adding to the grim body count, news emerged that eight people were crushed to death Tuesday when a huge crowd of survivors from the typhoon rushed a government rice store.
"One wall of our warehouses collapsed and eight people were crushed and killed instantly," the National Food Authority's Rex Estoperez said of the incident in Alangalang town, 17 kilometres (10 miles) from Tacloban.
Five days after Haiyan ripped apart entire coastal communities, the situation in Leyte's provincial capital Tacloban was becoming ever more dire with essential supplies low and increasingly desperate survivors clamouring to leave.
"Everyone is panicking," Captain Emily Chang, a navy doctor, told AFP.