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Desperation And Heartbreak In Philippine City Flattened By Super Typhoon Haiyan

"People are dirty, hungry, and thirsty," one shop owner in Tacloban said. "A few more days and they will begin to kill each other."

Posted on November 12, 2013, at 3:17 p.m. ET

UPDATE — Nov. 13, 1:50 a.m. ET: The official death toll rose Wednesday to 2,275 people. Some 3,665 were reported injured and 80 others missing, the Philippines government said.

Survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines on Nov. 9, are beginning to realize that the deadly storm was just the start of their struggle, as food shortages forced desperate residents to turn to looting.

Families take refuge in an indoor basketball stadium at the Tacloban City Convention Center.
Edgar Su / Reuters

Families take refuge in an indoor basketball stadium at the Tacloban City Convention Center.

Village councillor Edward Gualberto, a father of four, rummaged through a wrecked home in nothing but basketball shorts.

"I am a decent person. But if you have not eaten in three days, you do shameful things to survive," he told Agence France-Presse while digging out canned goods. "This typhoon has stripped us of our dignity ... but I still have my family and I am thankful for that."

Residents take sacks of medical items from the pharmacy.
Romeo Ranoco / Reuters

Residents take sacks of medical items from the pharmacy.

Some survivors have been breaking into shops to steal anything they can get their hands on, witnesses said.

Pastry shop owner Emma Bermejo said she thought the lack of relief goods would lead people to "begin to kill each other." "This is shameful," she said. "We have been hit by a catastrophe and now our businesses are gone. Looted. I can understand if they take our food and water, they can have it. But TV sets? Washing machines?"

Children carry pails of drinking water past graffiti calling for help.
Romeo Ranoco / Reuters

Children carry pails of drinking water past graffiti calling for help.

Though two Air Force planes arrived at Tacloban's wrecked airport this morning, the planes could only carry a few hundred of the more than 3,000 people hoping to escape the city's devastation, where corpses still litter the ground.

Military personnel carry a woman after she fainted while waiting in line to leave the town on military air transport.
Edgar Su / Reuters

Military personnel carry a woman after she fainted while waiting in line to leave the town on military air transport.

CBS News reported there were only about a dozen soldiers to hold back the crowd: "Mothers raised their babies high above their heads in the rain, in hopes of being prioritized. One woman in her 30s lay on a stretcher, shaking uncontrollably."

"We need help. Nothing is happening," said Aristone Balute, an 81-year-old who also didn't get a flight. "We haven't eaten since yesterday afternoon." Her clothes were soaked from the rain, and tears streamed down her face.

Typhoon victims line up for free rice at a businessman's warehouse in Tacloban.
Erik De Castro / Reuters

Typhoon victims line up for free rice at a businessman's warehouse in Tacloban.

Streets clogged with debris have made it difficult for aid to reach some of the hardest-hit areas. Up to 5,000 people are feared dead.

A woman carrying her child cries in front of Filipino soldiers forming a cordon after she failed to board a military plane evacuating survivors.
Bobby Yip / Reuters

A woman carrying her child cries in front of Filipino soldiers forming a cordon after she failed to board a military plane evacuating survivors.

U.S. Marines have been dispatched to the city with food, water, and generators, and the U.S. has pledged $20 million in immediate aid. Aircraft carriers credited with saving lives after the 2004 Asian tsunami are expected to arrive soon.

Tacloban residents wait for military flights inside the terminal of the city's damaged airport.
Bobby Yip / Reuters

Tacloban residents wait for military flights inside the terminal of the city's damaged airport.

"I don't believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way — every single building, every single house," U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy said after flying over Tacloban.

Devastated houses float on sea water.
Romeo Ranoco / Reuters

Devastated houses float on sea water.

Around 1,000 people are reportedly being treated for wounds at a makeshift clinic with shattered windows.

"It's overwhelming," said Air Force Capt. Antonio Tamayo. "We need more medicine. We cannot give anti-tetanus vaccine shots because we have none."

A soldier carries a woman who had injured her leg to a military C-130 aircraft leaving for Manila.
Edgar Su / Reuters

A soldier carries a woman who had injured her leg to a military C-130 aircraft leaving for Manila.

Six trucks of military cadaver collectors have begun to scour the island, but the soldiers are apparently overwhelmed. "There are bodies everywhere, we do not have enough people to get to them," said one driver.

Bags containing bodies lie in the street in Tacloban.
Romeo Ranoco / Reuters

Bags containing bodies lie in the street in Tacloban.

After his brother survived the typhoon, climate change representative Yeb Sano made an emotional speech at the UN's climate meeting in Warsaw, Poland, pleading for the world to take action to reduce climate change-causing carbon dioxide emissions.

View this video on YouTube

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