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Vol. 77/No. 45      December 16, 2013

(feature article)
Impact of typhoon in
Philippines ‘unabated’
AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

Nearly a month after Typhoon Haiyan devastated a large part of the central Philippines “its effects show no sign of abating,” U.N. representative Bernard Kerblat told Agence France-Presse Dec. 3.

According to the Philippine government, the death toll is now 5,680, with 1,779 people still missing. Millions of workers, farmers and fishermen lost their homes, built in the most vulnerable low-lying areas, because they couldn’t afford to live anywhere else, much less build structures that could withstand the storm.

The government says 26,233 were injured, double the number it gave two weeks ago. “We’re … seeing a second wave of people reaching hospitals with injuries,” the World Health Organization said in a Dec. 4 statement. But in many rural areas no medical help, or much food aid, has arrived.

The U.N. estimates that 4.13 million people were displaced, and 1.2 million houses damaged or destroyed. More than 204,000 people are still living in 1,000 “evacuation centers,” including churches, stadiums and schools, many of which were at least partially destroyed, like the one in Tacloban, above.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, which has been dispensing aid with an eyedropper, estimates that 74 percent of crops, 60 percent of fruit-bearing trees, and 65 percent of fishing boats and equipment were wiped out, affecting 5.6 million people.

There is no government plan for rebuilding homes. Instead, the U.N. hopes to distribute 98,600 plastic sheets, 7,500 tents and 19,000 solar lanterns.

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