Why typhoon response taking so long

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, claimed more than 1,700 lives and flattened countless buildings in the Philippines. Pictured here is Tacloban, Philippines, before the storm in February 2012. Click through the gallery to see the same area today. Around the world, aid agencies are dispatching teams to the Philippines with one initial overriding objective: Gain access to the areas hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan and understand what has happened. The Philippines government estimates that as many as 11.3 million people have been affected, and we know that at least 28 million people were within the storm’s path. A minimum of 670,000 people are displaced and 41,000 houses are damaged, with about half destroyed. And total casualty numbers continue to vary wildly, depending on different sources. Getting a handle on a crisis on this scale is hard, but it’s made even harder when you’re working in an archipelago in a country that is relatively poor with weak infrastructure. That’s the challenge in the Philippines, where we are facing decimated services on a truly terrifying scale. The images you have seen are only from areas we have accessed. Worse may be around the corner. Opinion: For Filipinos, despair and prayers Organizations such as the International Rescue Committee have learned a great deal from responding to past catastrophes, from the earthquake in Haiti and floods in Pakistan in 2010 to the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

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