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Philippines Relief Efforts Continue

Aired November 11, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, a SITUATION ROOM special report, "Deadly Typhoon."

CNN is live where the destruction is the worst. The bodies now piling up and the cries for help are desperate. An early estimate of the carnage is astounding. Some survivors are reduced to searching for food in the rubble. We'll have the latest on the struggle to deliver aid. The U.S. Military now stepping up its role as we watch what's going on.

And after a monster typhoon with unbelievable power, we're tracking the threat of a new storm in the disaster zone and even more misery.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It's Tuesday morning in the Philippines, another day of enormous suffering and staggering destruction. Officials are just beginning to get a handle on the scope of the typhoon disaster. They fear as many as 10,000 people may be dead. People are frantically searching for missing loved ones.

More than nine million people are affected by the storm at least in some way. The monster typhoon has moved on and faded out, but the danger in the Philippines is still very real. Tens of thousands of survivors are at risk of hunger, dehydration and disease.

CNN correspondents are on the ground in the hardest-hit areas, covering this unfolding crisis.

Let's go to CNN's Anna Coren first. She's joining us from Cebu in the Philippines.

What is going on there, Anna?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you can imagine, a massive relief operation is now under way to get food and fresh water, medical supplies to those who so desperately need it in those hard-hit areas affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

We're at the Cebu airfield, which if you like is the staging ground for that military operation. On the tarmac are supplies, and they're ready to go, but as you can see, it's started raining, which obviously will only hamper efforts. But there are a lot of people there who desperately need aid, desperately need help.

They have now been without those supplies for some five days. People, as you can imagine, are really struggling.


COREN (voice-over): Across huge expanses of the Philippines, there is nothing left but rubble and desperation. You can see it from the air and feel it and smell it on the ground. Survivors will pass the ruins of their homes and lives, focused on one thing, finding food, the water-soaked wreckage crunching beneath their feet as they scrounge for scraps.

MAGINA FERNANDEZ, VICTIM: Get international help to come here now. Not tomorrow, now. This is really, really like bad, bad, worse than hell. Worse than hell.

COREN: U.S. Marines are on the ground. Relief operations are under way. The food, clean water and medical supplies can't come fast enough. This airfield in Cebu has become the staging ground to the country's biggest relief operation.

(on camera): There's a real sense of desperation on the ground. While the focus is obviously on the sick and injured and getting them to safety, the people of this hard-hit island need food and fresh water. They have been without it for days. Despite assurances from the government, it is yet to arrive. The problem facing authorities is logistics, getting these supplies to the hard-hit and remote areas to the people who need it.

(voice-over): So many roads are impassable, clogged with debris and littered with bodies. The stench is terrible. For many, the pain is unbearable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people are dead, our friends are dead. Some of our family members are dead. It's really devastating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am the only survivor of the family. I want to know if they are still alive.

COREN: As the death toll grows by the day, families are desperately searching for loved ones who may be lost forever, swept after by one of the most powerful storms ever to strike the planet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like a tornado just passed us. And the tornado lasted for four hours. At first it was the ceilings that went off. Then the roofs just started flying in all directions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a 15-to-25-foot wave came across entire villages. So everything is wiped out.

COREN: In the midst of this death and destruction, a baby girl was born at a makeshift clinic at the Tacloban Airport. Her mother swam to stay alive when the storm hit, delivering a new life and a glimmer of hope.


COREN: But, Wolf, as we know, those stories of hope are few and far between. There is so much misery here. Thousands of people are still missing. Many of them are presumed dead.

The government has yet to confirm that 10,000 number as a death toll, but certainly that's what authorities in these hard-hit provinces are saying. Now very shortly, C-130 Hercules will be landing, and they will be dropping off people from those hard-hit areas, and then taking supplies back to the people who so desperately need it, but obviously this weather is going to cause a huge problem.

It's going to hamper those efforts and, of course, only bring much more misery to the people, Wolf, who have lost absolutely everything.

BLITZER: Anna, are a lot of planes landing with supplies, food, water, medicine, or just a few planes? Because they need -- they're desperate, these people over there.

COREN: Yes, they certainly are desperate. We spent some of yesterday here at the air base, and certainly planes were going in and out. There is obviously a bit of disorganization. That's completely understandable, considering this natural disaster has occurred.

The Philippines government, they knew this storm was coming, but no one anticipated the intensity, so it caught so many off-guard. But certainly they need more planes, they need more resources. The U.S. government, the U.S. Marines is on the ground. This sent in four C- 130 Hercules yesterday and they will be ferrying between here and obviously the devastated areas.

But they is no doubt the Philippines need more resources, they need more aid and they desperately need more help.

BLITZER: Anna Coren on the scene for us, we will stand and get more from you later. Thank you.

All across the disaster area, bodies are everywhere. Many are still buried in the rubble. Others are in plain view and they are piling up.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is standing by in Tacloban with a report on the carnage. And we have to warn you, her record contains some very disturbing images.

Paula, what are you seeing there?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we took a trip just on the road to Tacloban City. It's a road that has just recently been opened up so they can get aid to those who need it and it was quite surprising what we saw.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): The sign refers to a very different time. Now all that greets visitors on the road to Tacloban is devastation.

(on camera): Three days on since the storm itself, there are still bodies by the side of the road. Now, we can't show you the faces of these bodies. It's just too graphic. You can still see the terror as the wave hit on the faces of these bodies.

And they're still here three days on. Some of them are crudely covered. Other are just open and have blackened skin from the sun. Now, the officials say they're looking at the living, which is what you would understand, but they have to get rid of the bodies. This is a health issue for those people living and trying to survive around here.

The stench is overpowering. And, of course, they have to start considering disease.

This is the Tacloban convention center. We're told by the locals that a lot people came in here to try and protect themselves from the storm. But as you can see, the water reached the second story. And the locals say that anyone on the ground floor not expecting this storm surge simply didn't make it.

(voice-over): Many residents used this school as a shelter from the storm, but the water engulfed it. This resident says a lot of children died in here. Only a few managed to survive. No one knows how many lost their lives. Down the road, a public well is being put to use.

ROSELDA STUMAPIT, VICTIM: Right now, we don't have enough water. Even though we are not sure that it's clean and safe, we still drink from it because we need to survive.

HANCOCKS: We see just two trucks in two hours making their very slow way into the city at the heart of desperation.


HANCOCKS: Obviously, it was the storm surge that did an awful lot of the damage, Wolf, and one man said something very interesting to me.

He said it was like a tsunami, but if he had been warned that it was going to be like a tsunami, and that word was used, he would have understood. The fact they said storm surge, he had no comprehension of what it could be -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What a devastating story this is. Paula Hancocks on the scene for us in Tacloban, thank you, Paula.

Many of the typhoon survivors still are dazed, reliving their nightmare. Take a look at this remarkable video, people trudging through water as the storm hit, the wind gusts threatening to knock them over. Cars were practically swallowed up. Children and adults were nearly trapped. People rushed to the rescue, saving some and losing others.

To find out more about what you can do to help in the aftermath of this deadly disaster, go to

Still ahead, gripping pictures before and after this horrible, horrible devastation. They drive home the horrific damage from the typhoon, even as a new storm now threatens. We're tracking it all for you right now.

Our correspondents have experienced this disaster firsthand. We will take you behind the scenes where our crew and other survivors are now holed up.


BLITZER: A state of national calamity has been declared in the Philippines, the crisis growing more desperate three days after that monster typhoon hit. And now there's a new storm threat for survivors to worry about.


BLITZER: About 620,000 people have been displaced by the typhoon. Some of them have sought shelter at that damaged airport in Tacloban.

CNN's Andrew Stevens is there with brand-new images to show us.

What is it like now, Andrew?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you talk about damage. It's closer to shattered would be the best way to describe this airport, Wolf.

We camped here overnight. And it absolutely poured down, torrential, teeming rain. This is a roof which was only half-a-roof. There's a lot of gashes in that roof. People are still pouring in. As I look behind the camera, people are just coming in. They're trying to find a way out of here.

A lot of people are also now coming from outside the immediate area, but to get here is still a big, big deal. They have opened the road, Wolf. That has happened, but it's still quite a journey to get there. And this road is so critical because it is going to be a supply line, a key supply line for relief supplies going into the city.

We came down that road yesterday. Take a look at what we saw.


STEVENS: Just to give you an idea of what is happening here, we're three days after the storm now.

We are trying to get to the airport, which is 14 kilometers away. Our driver was supposed to come today, but he hasn't turned up. We can only assume that he's got his own family issues to deal with. So, basically, we're going to try and walk and get a lift on the way.

Still, look down there. I mean, it's just devastation, isn't it? So just not far from the hotel, we have a -- it's a first aid clinic, basically. They have been treating about 244 people, minor injuries, but this is all now charity from local NGOs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to the airport, but are you guys going there? STEVENS: We need to go to the airport.

I think we could be lucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This pickup is going to the airport.

STEVENS: OK. So off to the airport, 14 kilometers to go. Hopefully, it should be a fairly clear road, and we are so thankful to these guys for helping us.

Where are you coming from?


STEVENS: Why did you leave Bicol?


STEVENS: Looting, this may be, but it's also for the common cause. Gas is incredibly scarce now in this whole region. And transport is very, very important. It's also incredibly dangerous, what they are doing here.

This is one of the national highways which links Tacloban with the rest of the Philippines. It's a key lifeline now, as supplies need to be moved into the city. Clearing it is a priority. Here, the tangled lines now being taken out of the side of the road.

(voice-over): As we continue down the road, more and more people we pass are covering their noses and mouths. The reason soon becomes apparent, dead bodies on the side of the road. And the traffic clogs again, inching its way through devastation on both sides of this highway.

Our trip takes about four hours in all. And not once did we see any sign of relief supplies heading by road into this shattered city.


STEVENS: This is the whole key to this, Wolf. Those supplies have to come in by road as well as air. They are coming in by air, but they need to come in by road in quantity.

BLITZER: And they got to do that quickly to save lives. Otherwise, this situation is going to deteriorate even more.

Andrew Stevens, thank you so much for that report.

Just ahead, the United States military now mobilizing more resources to try to help the typhoon survivors.

New information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The United States military now taking significant steps to help typhoon recovery operations.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's getting some new information.

What are you learning, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is rapidly by the hour turning into a major U.S. effort by the United States military.

The aircraft carrier George Washington at this hour in port in Hong Kong is loading up, getting the crew back on board and they're setting sail for the Philippines accompanied by five other U.S. Navy ships. They will all have helicopters to help move supplies around, be able to provide medical assistance, bring in additional fresh supplies, even work it trying to make drinking water for people in the stricken area. So this will be a massive effort. They expect to be on station in the Philippines in the next 48 to 72 hours as they leave Hong Kong -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Are more aircraft coming in, C-130s, other cargo planes with supplies as well.

STARR: Yes, plan on seeing that into the airport in Tacloban that we have all seen has suffered such destruction on TV.

Right now, the U.S. Air Force has air controllers, combat air controllers on the ground at the airfield trying to help the Philippine forces get that airfield up and running again. They're very used to working in combat conditions, actually, so they will be very useful to the Philippines in getting that all moving again.

Once that airfield is open, it will be able to run 24/7. Right now, it cannot function during nighttime hours. Once they get it up and running, more C-130s, more helicopters, more effort by everyone to keep supplies flowing in and try and get aid to the hundreds of thousands of people that have been displaced by this typhoon -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. All right, I'm glad to see what is going on. But it's going to be quick. They have got to do it quick in order to save lives. Thank you, Barbara Starr.

Let's go back to Anna Coren. She is in Philippines for us at one of those airfields where supplies are coming in.

Anna, the weather reports we're getting are they ominous. That could be a major disruption to these flights coming in. What are you seeing now, what are you hearing as far as planes arriving where you are?

COREN: Yes, without a doubt, Wolf.

We would have expected more planes to have landed in the last hour. No planes, no cargo planes have landed. And yet there are supplies stacked up on the airfield ready to go. There are hundreds of soldiers here as well who are ready to assist and get on those planes and deliver that aid. As you say, this weather front is coming in. It's going to hamper those relief efforts, without a doubt. People desperately need food. They need fresh water, medical supplies and shelter, pray now, considering the rain is coming in. But it's just going to provide more -- or produce, I should say, much more misery on the ground. For those people who have lost their homes, have lost their loved ones, it's really a desperate situation.

BLITZER: It's Tuesday morning now where you are already in the Philippines, another day. Are there trucks there capable of moving supplies into areas that have been devastated? Do you see any helicopters ready to airlift supplies into some of those areas, because, as we say, it's been several days now since the storm hit?

COREN: We are going into the fifth day since that super typhoon hit.

It's quite frank. Wolf, you would expect more activity. I know in the coming hours, obviously, it will pick up, but you certainly would expect more planes, more helicopters and more trucks. There really is, I guess, a sense of disorganization into how this relief effort is going to play out, because the storm really caught people off-guard.

As for trucking goods to these places, you know, the Philippines is an archipelago. It's made up of 7,000 islands. So where this typhoon has hit, it's the central Philippines. It's affected many, many islands. To get to those islands, those hard-hit areas, people are going to have to take boats, which takes a very long time, and then to drive, those roads, many of them have been washed out. There's fallen debris. They have huge challenges in making those pathways accessible and then getting the aid to the people who so desperately need it.

BLITZER: Anna Coren on the scene for us, be careful over there. I know there's a lot of concern about waterborne illnesses developing now in the aftermath of this devastation. Anna, we will be in tough with you.

And please stay with CNN for complete team coverage of this devastating storm. We have reporting unlike any other television network. Anderson Cooper will be live on the ground in the Philippines, a special edition of "A.C. 360" at 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

That's it for me. Thanks for watching.