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Typhoon devastates the Philippines

by Hyuntae Byun

On Friday Nov. 8, Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda in Asia, struck the Philippines. It was accompanied by 235-mph winds and twenty feet of tidal surge. The storm’s winds are among the strongest on record and it has affected 9.7 million people in 41 provinces, causing an estimated 14 billion dollars in damage. Prior to Haiyan, the deadliest storm in the Philippines was Typhoon Thelma in 1991, which killed about 5,100 people. Early estimates suggest that Haiyan caused at least twice as many deaths. In addition, the United Nations reported that the disaster displaced as many as 660,000 people.

In response to the storm, the United States sent the aircraft carrier USS George Washington from a port visit in Hong Kong to the Philippines in order to help with aerial search and rescue operations. Currently, ground rescue teams are being hampered by the widespread destruction of roads and bridges, causing some rescue workers and experts to fear that the death toll may be higher than the estimated 10,000. Communication has been knocked out due to the storm, and there is still no word from many rural communities about the extent of damage caused by the storm.

Places still unreached by rescuers include the remote town of Guiuan in the eastern province of Samar, home to 40,000, which was hit particularly hard by the typhoon. Basey, another town in Samar, reported around 2,000 missing people. A major grower of coconut and rice, Samar is expected to have suffered damages amounting to more than $69 million, according to Citi Research.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has declared a state of national calamity and has deployed hundreds of soldiers to stop looting in the city of Tacloban. Tacloban citizens reported that the city was devastated by a huge wall of water that swept through the city and caused tremendous damage.

Many organizations and governments, however, have been quick to respond with promises of aid and donations. For example, the United Nations aid chief Valerie Amos released $25 million in aid relief on Monday from the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund. The United States has also sent aid in the form of food, medicine, and a force of Marines to help restore order and aid in rescue operations. The International Rescue Committee and the International Committee of the Red Cross have started to set up donation websites and have sent teams and aid to help the hundreds of thousands of displaced Filipinos, as well as to aid in the rebuilding of devastated infrastructure. To see ways you can help, please click on the links below:

(Sources Chicago Tribune; CBS News)

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