Typhoon Haiyan: Thousands of Filipinos jostle for seats on scarce flights

Typhoon Haiyan: Thousands of Filipinos jostle for seats on scarce flights

TACLOBAN, Philippines - Thousands of people on Wednesday jostled and begged for seats on scarce flights out of a Philippine city demolished by a super typhoon, as anger at the slow pace of aid reaching the disaster zone turned deadly.

News emerged that eight people were crushed to death on Tuesday when a huge crowd of survivors from Haiyan - one of the strongest storms ever - rushed to a government rice warehouse in Alangalang town, 17 kilometres from the devastated city of Tacloban.

"One wall of our warehouses collapsed and eight people were crushed and killed instantly" in Tuesday's incident, said Mr Rex Estoperez, spokesman for the National Food Authority.

Five days after Haiyan ripped apart entire coastal communities, the situation in Tacloban was becoming ever more dire with essential supplies low and increasingly desperate survivors jostling at the airport.

"Everyone is panicking," Captain Emily Chang, a navy doctor, told AFP.

"They say there is no food, no water. They want to get of here," she added, saying doctors at the airport had run out of medicine, including antibiotics.

"We are examining everyone but there's little we can do until more medical supplies arrive."

The United Nations estimates that 10,000 people may have died in Tacloban, the provincial capital of Leyte province where five-metre waves flattened nearly everything in their path as they swept hundreds of metres across the low-lying land.

However, Philippine President Benigno Aquino said late Tuesday that he believed the toll was "too much", adding that 2,500 "is the figure we're working on".

At Tacloban airport, AFP journalists witnessed exhausted and famished survivors pushing and shoving each other to get on one of the few flights out of the city, where festering bodies still littered many streets.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona admitted authorities were struggling to deal with the sheer numbers of the dead.

He told radio station DZMM they had "delayed" the retrieval of bodies "because we ran out of body bags".

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