Living walk dazed among the dead in Philippine city of Tacloban

TACLOBAN CITY - The dead are just lying on the road and the living are walking around in a daze.

After more than 24 hours of no communication at all from Tacloban, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas confirmed Saturday what many had feared-that many lives were lost in Leyte province when Supertyphoon Yolanda unleashed its wrath there on Friday.

Most of the deaths were caused by drowning due to storm surges, when water driven by strong winds rose from the sea and rushed in torrents ashore, washing away everything on their path.

President Aquino "has to see what happened in Leyte," said Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who flew into Tacloban with Roxas last Thursday to see to the preparations for the passage of Yolanda.

He said he and Roxas had reported to the President twice, once on Friday afternoon and again early Saturday.

The supertyphoon flattened 90 per cent of Leyte province and it would likely take a month to restore power lines, said Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.

"This is quite a disaster," said Petilla, who is from Palo, one of hardest-hit towns.

Petilla said the people of Leyte heeded the warnings of the government to evacuate and prepare for the weather disturbance, but "this typhoon was just too strong."

Gazmin said he saw a woman walking while holding a dead child. He saw collapsed buildings, uprooted trees, overturned cars, people going around in rags and roads waiting to be cleared.

Looting by people driven by hunger has also been reported, indicating a breakdown in peace and order.

There is no system in place, as the government is only just beginning to get relief and rescue work organised and on Saturday, the city was virtually incommunicado, officials said.

The local government has also been left virtually crippled, as even local officials were affected by the disaster.

Gazmin said the government was prioritizing help for those who are alive. The most pressing need was for food and water, according to local officials.

The military has set up a command base at the Tacloban airport, which was left in shambles after the storm surge overwhelmed the coastal Barangay San Jose where it is located.

Two lifeless bodies of soldiers have been recovered at the airport while four soldiers remain missing.

Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Catalino de la Cruz said there were nonstop arrivals of Huey helicopters and C-130 planes bringing relief stocks.

De la Cruz said personnel and resources had also been deployed to Masbate and Iloilo, two other Visayan provinces that had been similarly afflicted.