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Monday, November 11, 2013
Over the past couple of days, the island nation of The Philippines has suffered what many are calling the worst typhoon in the recorded history of mankind, Super Typhoon Haiyan.
The storm hit land in the upper northern half of the nation, made up of 7,107 islands two days ago, with heavy rains and winds in excess of 200 mph. Much of the region has already suffered calamity this year in the way of other typhoons, flooding, and even earthquakes. The region certainly was in no condition to be hit by another natural disaster. The number of casualties in Philippine storms are never truly known and are always much higher than estimates claim.
Much of the country is populated by squatters who live in over-populated shanty villages, in which accurate populations are hard to account for, as are accurate accounts of how many people go missing at times like these. Many of the squatter villages are built along the banks of streams for better access to water sources, and entire villages have often been swept away in the dead of night during flash floods. The nation sits barely above sea level, and when it rains hard, as is the case when typhoons roll in, there is simply no place for the water to go, and it often rises faster than people can send an alarm, or even be awakened.
“This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed and the streets are strewn with debris,” Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, a UN disaster management team member said. “The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami,” he continued, recalling the 2004 disaster that claimed nearly a quarter of a million lives in Indonesia. More than 2.1 million familes have been affected by typhoon Yolanda (Internationale codename: Haiyan), according to the Philippine government's latest estimates.
This equates to around 9.53 million individuals, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as of 12nn Sunday, November 10.
DSWD also estimates that some 96,039 displaced families with 449,416 individuals are staying in 1,790 evacuation centers. Some 36,600 other families composed of 182,379 individuals have sought shelter in homes of friends and relatives.It may be weeks before a more accurate number of casualties is known, if ever. Some initial reports circulating is that entire islands have vanished. With every island in the Philippines being heavily populated (total land mass of the entire country is only half the size of the U.S. state of Texas, yet there is a population of nearly 100 million), whatever number is finally determined, it is not going to be pleasant.