Amid Philippines Horror, 'Miracle' Baby Born

In typhoon's wake, international relief focuses on destroyed city of Tacloban

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 11, 2013 2:06 AM CST | Updated Nov 11, 2013 7:49 AM CST

(Newser) – In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, President Benigno Aquino has today declared a "state of national calamity," which will speed up the release of emergency funds and set price controls on grocery staples. Outside help is beginning to reach parts of the central Philippines, as more horrific stories of the monster storm emerge—along with one of hope:

  • The much-suffering Tacloban, where authorities fear the death toll could be as high as 10,000, experienced the smallest bit of good news today: A 21-year-old survivor gave birth to a baby girl at the city's airport. Cheers broke out when the healthy baby was delivered to Emily Ortega, who had to swim and cling to a post to survive when the storm surge flooded the emergency center she was in. The AFP reports the child has been named Bea Joy, after Ortega's mother, Beatriz, who was swept away by the waters.
  • The US military has sent water, generators, and a contingent of around 90 Marines and sailors to Tacloban, the AP reports. They are at the forefront of a major international relief mission centered on the city, where few buildings are left standing and corpses are scattered in the streets. The Philippine military has sent soldiers to the city amid reports that desperate survivors have attacked trucks (including, reportedly, a Red Cross truck) carrying food and water.

  • A survivor in Tacloban describes a desperate fight to stay alive after the storm flooded her home, drowning her mother and brother. "The hardest thing is ... seeing your mother floating in the flood and you don't know what to do. You just see (her) there and the only thing is you have to save yourself," Maryann Tayag tells USA Today. "I could not save her because she drowned already, and it was not just water from the sea but mixed with dirty water—black, like it came from river and smell like canal."
  • The UN estimates 620,000 people were displaced by the typhoon, which caused a surge of debris-choked seawater that resembled a tsunami, Reuters reports. The BBC shares more numbers: Wind gusts hit 170mph, and waves reached as high as 45 feet; as much as 15.75 inches of rain fell in places. One disaster management expert has this to say: Haiyan was "probably the most intense and strongest storm of this type to make landfall."
  • The confirmed death toll was at 942 as of this morning, reports the AP, though that number is expecting to grow much larger.
  • With 41 of the country's 80 provinces hurting in the wake of the storm, rescue workers are struggling to reach devastated areas. Officials have been unable to contact Guiuan, a town of 40,000 people that was one of the first in the typhoon's path.
  • Haiyan, which has now weakened to a tropical storm, still packed a punch as it made landfall in northern Vietnam today, with winds approaching 100mph, the BBC reports. Some 600,000 people have been evacuated and there are fears of widespread flooding in Hanoi. Vietnamese authorities say 11 people have been killed, including people killed during preparations for the storm.

Destroyed houses lie in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines .
Destroyed houses lie in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines .   (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan is seen  in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines.
The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan is seen in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines.   (AP Photo/Toti Navales)
New-born baby Bea Joy is held as mother Emily Ortega, 21, bottom, rests after giving birth at an improvised clinic at Tacloban airport Monday Nov. 11, 2013 in Tacloban city, Leyte province in central Philippines.
New-born baby Bea Joy is held as mother Emily Ortega, 21, bottom, rests after giving birth at an improvised clinic at Tacloban airport Monday Nov. 11, 2013 in Tacloban city, Leyte province in central...   (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
New-born baby Bea Joy is held by relative Michelle Satur after her mother Emily Ortega, 21, gave birth in an improvised clinic at Tacloban airport Monday Nov. 11, 2013.
New-born baby Bea Joy is held by relative Michelle Satur after her mother Emily Ortega, 21, gave birth in an improvised clinic at Tacloban airport Monday Nov. 11, 2013.   (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
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