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Typhoon survivors face grim struggle

Update 6:35 a.m. -

Survivors root through the splintered wreckage of their homes searching for loved ones who may be buried beneath. Others are scrambling to find food and water in areas littered with corpses.

Three days after Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, scythed across the central Philippines, people here are struggling to grasp the enormity of what they have lost and the challenges they still face.

The storm, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, has left devastation on a monumental scale in its wake.

Thousands of houses have been obliterated. Many areas are still cut off from transport, communications and power. Some officials say that as many as 10,000 people may have been killed.

“There are too many people dead,” said Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. “We have bodies in the water, bodies on the bridges, bodies on the side of the road.”

And amid the carnage, hundreds of thousands of survivors are trying to cope with a lack of water, food, shelter and medicine. Aid workers and government officials are battling to get emergency supplies to hard hit areas, which have been cut off by fallen trees and power lines.

PHILIPPINES – Super Typhoon Haiyan — perhaps the strongest storm ever — plowed Friday across the central Philippines, leaving widespread devastation in its wake.

It roared onto Samar at 4:30 a.m., flooding streets and knocking out power and communications networks in many areas of the hilly island in the region of Eastern Visayas, and then continued its march, barreling into four other Philippine islands as it moved across the archipelago.

At least three people were killed and seven hurt, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Friday. Some 125,000 took refuge in evacuation centers and hundreds of flights were canceled.

With sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph), Haiyan may be the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land anywhere in recorded history. It will take further analysis after the storm passes to establish whether it is a record.

Its speed — moving westward at 41 kph — meant the worst was over quickly. But the damage was still severe. “About 90% of the infrastructure and establishments were heavily damaged,” Gwendolyn Pang, the secretary general of the Philippine National Red Cross, told CNNI.

About 25 areas were hit, she said, adding that assessment teams were prepared to enter the stricken areas as soon as conditions allowed.

But they cannot do it alone, she said: “We will be definitely needing more support for this one.”

She predicted the casualty toll will rise as soon as aid workers reach affected areas, where flood waters were as high as 10 feet.