Tropical Cyclone Pam Reaches Category 5

The South Pacific island of Vanuatu has been hammered by Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam.

The Island has faced 165 m.p.h. winds from one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded east of Australia.  The eye of the storm passed over Vanuatu on March 13th around 4:05 a.m., the first category 5 to make landfall since the devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013.

Reports say that Efate Island, the most populated in Vanuatu, has suffered extreme damage from the storm.  There has been no confirmed reports of deaths, injuries, or missing.

Port Vila, located on the southwest part of the island, did not get hit by the storm’s eye and was able to stay online throughout most of the storm’s move over the Island.  The last recording sent by a weather station at the port showed almost 4.7 inches of rain from the storm.

Four tropical cyclones are currently spinning in the Pacific including one just off the western coast of Australia.

Operation Christmas Child Sends 60,000 Gifts To Children In Philippines

The annual Operation Christmas Child drive to provide gifts and necessities for children in need around the world is sending over 60,000 boxes to children in areas hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Franklin Graham, head of Samaritan’s Purse, spoke of the importance of these gifts to those children.

“Do you know what these gifts are going to mean to these kids? It means that somebody loves them, it means they haven’t been forgotten. It will mean everything in the world. It will give these little kids hope,” Graham said at an event in New York.

The New York event included families impacted by Hurricane Sandy last year.

“I packed stuffed animals, which I think they will hold at night and fear for nothing and know that God will be in control,” 11-year-old Diana Barbacena told the Christian Post. Barbacena had to be evacuated last year from her home when Hurricane Sandy struck the Atlantic Coast.

Overall, Operation Christmas Child celebrated its 20th anniversary by collecting around 9.8 million shoeboxes full of gifts and supplies for children in over 100 countries on six continents.

Typhoon Haiyan Death Toll Officially Tops 5,000

Philippine officials have officially risen the death toll from Typhoon Haiyan to over 5,000.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said that 4,919 people are confirmed dead in the Eastern Visayas region while a civil defense official released a statement adding an additional 290 confirmed dead in the central & southern parts of the country.

Roxas told reporters the situation in the country is beginning to stabilize, as relief workers are able to clear roads to more remote regions.

In addition to the cleared roads, officials say that banks, gas stations and stores are beginning to re-open in damaged regions.

Philippine Death Toll Officially Over 3,600

The official death toll from Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines stands at 3,621 Friday morning.

The United Nations issued a report placing the total at over 4,400 but that number conflicts with local officials. However, all sides involved say the total will continue to rise as rescue personnel can reach more villages.

A main road in the devastated city of Tacloban was finally cleared of debris and bodies allowing supplies to be delivered to the city center. However, officials say that there are not enough trucks to deliver the supplies in a timely manner.

Staff from Doctors Without Borders said they visited the village of Guiuan that was destroyed by the storm. They said that the situation there is “bleak” with over 45,000 people without medical supplies, clean water or food.

Military officials say that helicopters from the USS George Washington are flying into parts of the country that still cannot be reached by land vehicles to drop emergency food rations and clean water. They are also evacuating severely wounded residents for transport to hospitals in Manila.

Panic Spreads In The Philippines

Just five days after Super Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines, panic is beginning to set in among residents of Tacloban and other destroyed villages.

Eight people were crushed to death when a crowd stormed a rice warehouse near Tacloban. More than 100,000 bags of rice were stolen by the mob before police and military troops were able to quell the riot.

Residents in parts of Tacloban were also digging up underground pipes and smashing them open to find water.

The official death toll continues to climb and stood at 2,275 as of Thursday morning. United Nations workers on the ground are expecting the total to climb significantly despite the Philippine president announcing that only a few thousand likely died in the storm rather than earlier estimates of tens of thousands.

U.S. military personnel have been evacuating people from Tacloban to Manila for medical treatment. Soldiers reported seeing roads with bodies lined up for miles awaiting the government to pick them up for burial.

Tacloban Mayor Tells Residents To Flee

The mayor of Typhoon destroyed Tacloban is telling residents to flee the destroyed city.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez told residents to leave after gunmen firing on the convoy stopped the city’s first attempt at a mass burial. The bodies had to be returned to a gathering place by the remnants of city hall where the stench was overwhelming.

The mayor said that the city does not have enough trucks and heavy equipment to distribute relief that is piling up at the Tacloban airport.

“I have to decide at every meeting which is more important, relief goods or picking up cadavers,” Romualdez said.

Government officials say the Philippine military is stretched so thin it’s impossible to provide security for cities like Tacloban.

Chaos Reigns In Disaster Struck Areas

The massive devastation in the Philippines and the overwhelmed police & military officials on the islands is leading to conditions of lawlessness and looting.

Officials reported shooting dead two men who were part of a gang that tried to raid and hijack a series of trucks carrying relief supplies. In several towns, shopkeepers are using deadly force and working in around-the-clock shifts to provide armed security for their stores to prevent looting.

Prisoners from local jails were released and told to try and save themselves from the storm and police have made no effort to recapture them.

The Philippine government has sent in columns of armored vehicles to Tacloban and other ruined communities in an attempt to stop the looting and violence. However, without bringing clean water and food to the same regions, officials say it’s likely the actions of desperate people will magnify an already bad situation.

One store owner told the Daily Mail they cannot understand why someone would steal televisions and washing machines when it’s harder to find food or water.

“Two Out Of Every Five Are Children”

The death toll from Super Typhoon Haiyan continues to climb as makeshift mortuaries are being set up outside buildings that remain mostly intact. Police and soldiers tell various media outlets that they are finding entire towns wiped out because of the storm surges and wind gusts of the typhoon.

The governor of Samar province said the entire town of Basey was gone and its 2,000 residents are missing.

And complicating efforts is Tropical Storm Zoraida is now hovering over the area impacted by Haiyan dumping more rain and causing more flooding. Search and rescue efforts were suspended for hours Tuesday because of heavy rains.

One official told the Daily Mail “two out of every five dead are children.”

The town of Baco, a city of 35,000, remains 80% underwater and officials cannot even access most of the community to search for victims.

Health officials are already raising the alarm over disease as many residents are beginning to show signs of dysentery. The officials lament the lack of clean water in the region and the inability to get equipment to clean water to the villages hit hardest by the storm.

FOX News: US sends water, generators, and troops to aid deadly typhoon survivors

The U.S. military has dispatched aid and troops to some of the areas of the Philippines that were hardest-hit by a deadly typhoon Friday, providing the first outside help of what is expected to be a major aid mission in the coming days and weeks.

Two U.S. C-130 transport planes containing water, generators, and a contingent of Marines flew from Manila’s Vilamor air base to the city of Tacloban, where officials fear that Typhoon Haiyan may have killed as many as 10,000 people.

A U.S. Marine brigadier general who took a helicopter flight over Tacloban says “every single building” was destroyed or severely damaged. Paul Kennedy spoke as supplies were unloaded from the two Marine C-130 planes.

Source: FOX News – FOX News: US sends water, generators, and troops to aid deadly typhoon survivors