After first making landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 8, bringing almost 16 inches of rain and winds at up to 147 mph, Typhoon Haiyan has left a wake of destruction and death -- and, according to most recent reports, widespread wreckage and looting that is hampering relief efforts. While the Philippine government's death toll is officially 1,774, local officials estimate that up to 10,000 people have been killed by the typhoon, while 620,000 have been displaced by damage and flooding. The storm left the eastern town of Giuan totally destroyed and another Philippine city, Baco, 80 percent underwater. From a public health perspective, the crisis has just begun: In Tacloban, a city "largely flattened" by the storm, an insufficient supply of clean water has raised concerns about the spread of dysentery, and aid workers are concerned about the many potential health risks for survivors.
As the extent of the damage becomes clearer, international relief efforts are acting with increasing urgency, despite obstacles. Early Tuesday, the United States sent an aircraft carrier with 80 aircraft, expected to reach the Philippines in 2-3 days, and Britain sent a navy warship with equipment to make drinking water from seawater and a military transport aircraft. Australia has announced a 9.3 million-dollar aid package, Britain pledged $16 million in shelter aid, and the United States said Monday that it would provide $20 million in assistance. But with 9.5 million affected, relief aid has a lot of catching up to do with the near-unprecedented damage wrought by the typhoon, the scope of which is sure to leave the country reeling for months.
Warning: some images contain graphic content.
Above, a woman holding a baby comforts a crying relative as a plane leaves the airport during evacuation operations in Tacloban, on the eastern island of Leyte, on Nov. 12 after the typhoon swept over the Philippines.