TACLOBAN CITY – The total fatalities from typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) has jumped to 5,235 with 1,613 still missing after over two weeks, marking a possibility of the death toll reaching 7,000.
The super typhoon now comes second to the 1976 tsunami on the southern island of Maguindanao as the deadliest recorded natural disaster to strike the Philippines.
“About 8,000 were dead or missing. About 10,000 were injured and about 90,000 were homeless,” a 1978 report for the Special Committee on Tsunami Warning System, the National Committee on Marine Sciences and National Science Development Board, intended primarily to “present findings about this tsunami for a better understanding of it and that steps may be taken to lessen loss to lives and property in future tsunamis.”, reported Mindanews.
The tsunami affected the coastal areas of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and the cities of Cotabato, Zamboanga and Pagadian.
Col. Dickson Hermoso of Cotabato City of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff recalls his experience in 2011 that he was 18 years old and a sophomore in college during the earthquake and tsunami, “I have a vivid memory how that strong earthquake and tsunami destroyed the place. We were ROTC cadets who got those trapped in the collapsed buildings (Sagittarius Hotel, Sultan Hotel, Southseas Dept. Store, etc.). We also joined in the retrieval of bodies of so many people who died because of the tsunami along Linek seashore.”
The typhoon Yolanda catastrophe triggered a magnanimous international aid effort, with many countries and relief organizations rushing over to deliver food, water and health services to over four million people who tragically faced the brunt of the typhoon.
Valerie Amos, the UN humanitarian chief, visited the disaster zones and imparted to the world that “Much more needs to be done. Food, clean water and shelter remain the top priorities.”
Hence, a UN appeal for funds was raised from $301 million to $348 million owing to the enormous number of displaced people who, unfortunately, were still under the mercy of bad weather conditions. Amos warned in particular of the dangers for babies, children and mothers alike.
At a news conference at the UN headquarters, Amos revealed that over 1.5 million children being at risk of acute malnutrition, and more or less 800,000 pregnant and nursing mothers in dire need of nutritional help.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) through Assistant Secretary Dr. Eric Tayag, relayed to the public that all wounds sustained in Yolanda should be considered tetanus-prone; meaning all patients should be given both anti-tetanus serum plus tetanus toxoid to prevent more deaths.