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In typhoon-ravaged Tacloban, ‘no place to bury the dead’

A boy in Tacloban rests on a pedicab surrounded by debris caused by Typhoon Haiyan. Photo by Noel Celis/ AFP/ Getty Images

After one of the most powerful typhoons in recorded history struck the Philippines over the weekend, aid organizations and the government scrambled to provide residents with their most basic needs of food and water on Monday. Meanwhile, survivors lined the streets with the bodies of those killed during the storm. The Philippine military put the official death toll from Typhoon Haiyan at 942 on Monday, but thousands more were feared dead.

Placing those who died at the sides of the road helped with their retrieval, explained Lynette Lim, Asia communications manager at Save the Children. She rode out the storm in Tacloban and left Sunday for Manila to help coordinate the organization’s response after the typhoon wiped out cell phone and radio communications.

“There was no form of transportation. Everyone had to walk,” she said by phone on Monday. “There was no place to bury the dead.”

The United Nations estimated that the massive storm displaced more than 600,000 people in the poor Southeast Asian nation of 105 million.

Residents got about three days of warning before the storm hit, but many families either didn’t heed the warnings or some left one person behind to protect their homes from looters, said Lim. In the house where she was staying during the storm, part of the roof collapsed but neighbors sought shelter there anyway because it had a second floor and their one-story homes had flooded.

“It was a white sheet of wind and rain,” she recalled. “The windows shattered because of the flying debris. We saw cars overturned.”

The city of Tacloban was at the center of typhoon devastation. Click the box above for more photos.

Blocked roads and fuel shortages were hindering relief efforts, and people were looting stores out of desperation, Lim said. Besides food and water, she said residents were in need of shelter, and hygiene and medical supplies.

And regarding long-term recovery, since many schools were destroyed, Save the Children is planning to hand out tent-like substitutes with tables and wipe boards with the aim of getting children back to class as soon as possible. “The longer children stay out of school, the more likely they will drop out,” she said.

Read more about how to help typhoon relief efforts.

Lynette Lim will appear on Monday’s PBS NewsHour. View more of our World coverage.

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