News World Philippines in desperate race to aid typhoon survivors

Philippines in desperate race to aid typhoon survivors

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• UPDATE: 7.08am, Tuesday November 12

The UN says more than 10,000 people are feared to have died in the Philippines super typhoon, and the world should expect “the worst” for the final toll.

A top UN humanitarian official, John Ging, says 660,000 people fled their homes because of the storm and the UN will appeal for significant international aid for victims today.

“Many places are strewn with dead bodies,” Ging, operations director for the UN Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told a news conference at UN headquarters.

“It is estimated now over 10,000 people perished,” Ging said.  

When asked about the final toll, he added: “We are certainly expecting the worst. As we get more and more access we find the tragedy of more and more people killed in this typhoon.”

Two Queensland families say they have grave fears for relatives in the Philippines who haven’t contacted them since the typhoon struck.

Errol and Margie Mitchell and Chris and Maricel Hesselberg were staying together just 18km from Tacloban.

Mr Hesselberg, 44, had left Bundaberg two weeks ago to visit his seven-month pregnant wife Maricel in Alang Alang.

He rang his father Michael on Thursday to warn there was a storm coming and not to worry.

But Michael fears the worst having not heard from him since.

“I’m just blocking it out, I’m trying not to watch the news,” he told AAP.

“I’m clamping up.”

The UN’s Ging told of the battle to get to the devastated city of Tacloban and other areas badly hit by Friday’s super-typhoon.

He said it was taking three hours for relief vehicles to cover the 11km from Tacloban airport into the city.

“The first priority of response teams, once they were able to navigate their way in to these areas, is to mobilise the burial of dead bodies because of the public health issues,” he said.

Ging added that there was a desperate need for clean drinking water and food for survivors.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos was expected in Manila to run a joint relief operation by the UN and private groups.

The UN has already released $US25 million ($A26.7 million) from its emergency fund for aid and Amos and the Philippine government will on Tuesday launch a “flash appeal” for cash. UN officials say it is likely to be for hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The scale of devastation is massive and therefore it will require the mobilisation of a massive response,” Ging said.

The UN official praised the Philippines government response to the disaster as “very impressive”.