Victims of Typhoon Haiyan are laid to rest at last in mass graves

Black body bags lie piled up in a mass grave – finally dug for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Some are tiny, holding the bodies of children who never stood a chance. Until yesterday, bodies littered Tacloban’s streets. But now, more than a week after the storm tore into the Philippines, the dead are being laid to rest. The starving, injured survivors scavenge food and hunt for clean water in the ruins, surrounded by the stench of death. That is the fate of 13million people affected by the 235mph winds that shook the tropical nation last Friday night. Yet the 1.9million who have lost their homes are simply glad to be alive. So far it’s known that 4,460 people were killed. Makeshift pin-boards display pictures of loved ones who will probably never be seen again. Families search for them tirelessly – some are still being pulled alive from the rubble. But their numbers are now far fewer than the bloodied corpses that wash ashore with each high tide. Eleven-year-old Rafael tells how he tried to save his father when the storm hit, but now fears he will be one of those bodies. Describing the horror, he said: “The rain got stronger and stronger. Then the roof started ripping off. When it totally came off, we fled as rocks started to fall on us. “The water was rising and we clung to a rock but something hit my father’s head. I tried waking him up but the blood was all over. "His blood went in my mouth. I tried pulling him but he was too heavy so I had to leave him. "I held on to a banana trunk then to wood until the water went down.” Desperate: Jorisa, 19, with her newborn son. She says he is in danger without formula milk More rain has been falling in Tacloban – capital of Leyte province – sending giant rafts of debris floating through its streets. Rainwater stagnating in the 30C heat is a breeding ground for deadly diseases such as infectious Dengue fever. Yet the first drops of aid have brought only bare essentials of clean water, food and tarpaulins. Immunisation drugs remain a pipe dream. Conditions at the few ­functioning hospitals are hellish, with the wounded and diseased forced to queue for hours in the streets. Many people are ­crippled with sickness and diarrhoea after eating rotten rice in desperation. The government has provided limited supplies of clean rice, dispensed in plastic bags. Outside one community hall, a line of families wait in the blistering heat between downpours, scrambling to get in. Jorisa Balgos’s mother brings some home to her 19-year-old daughter, waiting with her newborn son. "There is little to go around. Brave Jorisa tells how she and her baby were in their bamboo home when the typhoon struck. “The roof started to peel off,” she recalls. “Other people’s roofs were flying around, fences were falling. I was very afraid.” Fortunately Jorisa and her son found refuge in her parents’ concrete house nearby, joined by dozens of other families. Jorisa says of her still unnamed tot: “He cried for four hours as the typhoon raged. "I thought the house might collapse on all of us. Now I am afraid my baby might develop some kind of illness.” Many infants are starving and Jorisa says: “I am currently breast-feeding but need more formula in case I run out.”

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