The Australian government pledged $10m million dollars of emergency aid to the Philippines as the scale of the devastation unleashed by Super Typhoon Haiyan emerges.
But amid the tragedy an amazing story of hope after a 'miracle' baby was born in the rubble.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop today described the unfolding tragedy as "absolutely devastating" and on a "massive scale".
The sum includes $4 million towards a UN global appeal and Aus$3 million for Australian non-government organisations. The aid will include tarpaulins, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, water containers and health and hygiene kits.
A team of Australian medics will leave on Wednesday via a C17 military transport plane from Darwin to join disaster experts already on the ground, the government said, after it disbursed emergency funds worth US$490,000 on Sunday.
Philippine rescue teams were said to be overwhelmed in their efforts to help those whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed after Haiyan ravaged large swathes of the archipelago Friday.
Officials were struggling to cope with the scale of death and destruction, with reports of violent looters and scarcity of food, drinking water and shelter.
United Nations leader Ban Ki-moon promised UN humanitarian agencies would "respond rapidly to help people in need".
The UN children's fund UNICEF said a cargo plane carrying 60 tonnes of aid including shelters and medicine would arrive in the Philippines Tuesday, to be followed by deliveries of water purification and sanitation equipment.
Pope Francis led 60,000 people in Sunday prayers for the Philippines, urging the faithful to provide "concrete help" to the largely Roman Catholic country.
"Sadly, there are many, many victims and the damage is huge," he said.
'Miracle baby'Emily Sagalis cried tears of joy after giving birth to a "miracle" girl in a typhoon-ravaged Philippine city, then named the baby after her mother who went missing in the storm.The girl was born Monday in a destroyed airport compound that was turned into a makeshift medical centre, with her bed a piece of dirty plywood resting amid dirt, broken glass, twisted metal, nails and other debris."She is so beautiful. I will name her Bea Joy in honour of my mother, Beatriz," Sagalis, 21, whispered shortly after giving birth.Sagalis said her mother was swept away when giant waves generated by Super Typhoon Haiyan surged into their home near Tacloban city, the capital of Leyte province which was one of the worst-hit areas, and she has not been seen since.More than 10,000 people are believed to have died in Leyte, and many hundreds on other islands across the central Philippines, which would make Haiyan the country's worst recorded natural disaster.But, in the most tragic of circumstances, Bea Joy restarted the cycle of life."She is my miracle. I had thought I would die with her still inside me when high waves came and took us all away," she said, as her teary-eyed husband, Jobert, clasped the baby and a volunteer held an IV drip above them.The husband said the first wave that came carried their wooden home in the coastal town of San Jose many metres inland, washing all of the family outside.He said the entire community had been washed away, with the once picturesque area replaced by rubble and the bloated remains of people and animals."We are supposed to be celebrating today, but we are also mourning our dead," Jobert said.He said it was God's will that he found his wife floating amongst the debris.They were carried away for what felt like hours until the water subsided, and they found themselves sheltering in a school building where other mud-soaked and injured survivors had huddled.The couple and their surviving neighbours subsisted there until Monday morning only on bottles of water they found among the debris. Jobert said he knew that his wife was about to give birth any day, but no help or aid had come."She began labour at 5:00 am (Monday) so we had to walk several kilometres before a truck driver hitched us a ride," he said.The young military doctor who attended to her, Captain Victoriano Sambale, said the new mother had already broken her waters by the time the couple stepped inside the building, and then developed bleeding during the delivery."This is the first time we have delivered a baby here. The baby is fine and we have managed to stop the bleeding of the mother," he said.However, he cautioned doctors were extremely concerned about potential infections that could easily be caught amid the unsterile conditions, with the medical team almost powerless now to help her."Definitely the mother is still in danger from infection and sepsis (septicemia). So we need to give her intravenous antibiotics. Unfortunately we ran out of even the oral antibiotics yesterday," Sambale said.'Apocalyptic destruction'An Australian aid worker on the ground in Cebu in the Philippines has described the scene following super typhoon Haiyan as one of "apocalyptic destruction".There are fears the death toll from the typhoon that has destroyed entire towns could soar well over 10,000, making it the country's worst recorded natural disaster.The typhoon sent tsunami-like waves and merciless winds rampaging across a huge chunk of the archipelago on Friday.Sandra Bulling from Care Australia described scenes of utter devastation."It's a mess of apocalyptic destruction," she told Fairfax radio on Monday.
She said aid agencies were also hearing figures of a death toll of more than 10,000 but this could rise."It's so difficult to get a full picture but villages are totally cut off," she said."But what's more tragic is the number of people who are affected, it's over nine million at the moment. And these are the people that have lost their loved ones, who have lost their livelihoods, who have lost their houses, who are desperate for any help at the moment."
Typhoon survivors forced to steal from the deadTormented survivors of a typhoon that is feared to have killed more than 10,000 in the Philippines rummaged for food Sunday through debris scattered with corpses, while frenzied mobs looted aid convoys.Two days after one of the most powerful storms ever recorded flattened entire towns across part of the Southeast Asian archipelago, desperate survival tactics created fresh horrors.On the outskirts of Tacloban, a coastal eastern city of 220,000 where tsunami-like waves destroyed many buildings, Edward Gualberto accidentally stepped on bodies as he raided the wreckage of a home.Wearing nothing but a pair of red basketball trousers, the father-of-four and village councillor apologised for his shabby appearance and for stealing from the dead.
Empty coffins lie on a street near houses damaged after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city. Photo: Reuters.
"I am a decent person. But if you have not eaten in three days, you do shameful things to survive," Gualberto told AFP as he dug canned goods from the debris and flies swarmed over the bodies."We have no food, we need water and other things to survive."
After half a day's work, he had filled a bag with an assortment of essentials including packs of spaghetti, cans of beer, detergent, soap, canned goods, biscuits and candies."This typhoon has stripped us of our dignity... but I still have my family and I am thankful for that."Elsewhere in Tacloban, other survivors were employing more aggressive means as they took advantage of a security vacuum created when most of the city's police force failed to turn up for work after the typhoon.
A boy who was wounded by flying debris due to Super Typhoon Haiyan stays at the ruins of his family's house. Photo: Reuters.
Like Gualberto, many said they had not eaten since the typhoon and overwhelmed authorities admitted they were unable to get enough relief supplies into the city.Some broke through shops that had withstood the typhoon by hammering through glass windows and winching open steel barricades.One desperate meat shop owner brandished a handgun in a failed bid to prevent one mob from entering his shop.
He was ignored and the shop was ransacked. The businessman just silently stood by, waving his gun in the air and shouting. When he realised he had lost the fight, he cursed them and walked away.Nearby, pastry shop owner Emma Bermejo described the widespread looting as "anarchy.""There is no security personnel, relief goods are too slow to arrive. People are dirty, hungry and thirsty. A few more days and they will begin to kill each other," she said."This is shameful. 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?"
Typhoon Haiyan is pictured from the International Space Station on November 9, 2013, taken by astronaut Karen Nyberg courtesy of NASA. Photo: Reuters.
Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon described some of the looters as "mobsters", after one of his organisation's convoys was ransacked near Tacloban.Meanwhile, confused men, women and children walked aimlessly along roads strewn with overturned cars and felled power lines, some gagging from the stench of rotting flesh.A team of military cadaver collectors had been deployed, but the soldiers appeared overwhelmed.
"There are six trucks going around the city picking up the dead, but it's not enough," said the driver of one of the vehicles as it wended its way through the streets. "There are bodies everywhere, we do not have enough people to get to them."Some survivors handed out small letters to passers-by and reporters asking them to contact their relatives to relay their fate.
Thousands of homes are destroyed after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city. Photo: Reuters.
Many had wounds on their faces and were limping, while all had stories of unimaginable horror."The huge waves came again and again, flushing us out on the street and washing away our homes," Mirasol Saoyi, 27, told AFP near the city's seaside sports stadium that withstood the typhoon and where thousand of people had gathered."My husband tied us together, but still we got separated among the debris. I saw many people drowning, screaming and going under... I haven't found my husband."
A fishing boat which slammed into damaged houses lie atop debris after super Typhoon Haiyan. Photo: Reuters.
Melbourne woman feared missing is safe and wellA Melbourne woman feared missing in the Philippines typhoon appears safe and well and has made contact with her family.Maiko 'Michelle' Reimann, 28, was travelling through the Philippines when the country's worst natural disaster hit and killed an estimated 10,000 people."She's OK," her father Werner Reimann told Fairfax Media."She sent a text message today. She's fine, because she's in El Nido."Ms Reimann, who grew up in Queensland, left Melbourne in May, quitting her job to travel around the world and arrived in the Philippines last month.El Nido is municipality southwest of Manila.
Maiko "Michelle" Reimann hasn't been in touch with her family since before the deadly typhoon hit. Photo: Facebook.
Defrocked Australian priest among dead after super typhoonA former Sydney priest who secretly married a woman he met in the Philippines is among the hundreds killed in the typhoon that has devastated the archipelago nation.Kevin Lee, a whistleblower on child sex abuse in the Catholic church, was defrocked last year after he went public about his 2011 marriage and admitted to having had girlfriends during his 20 years as a priest.Mr Lee founded the Padre Pio parish in Glenmore Park, in western Sydney, but moved to the Philippines after leaving the ministry.
It's been reported he went swimming as part of a religious ritual, as Super Typhoon Haiyan lashed the Philippines with winds of around 315km/h.On Sunday the Bishop of Parramatta, Anthony Fisher, paid tribute to the late father and husband."I extend my deepest sympathy to his widow Josefina and her children during this time of personal tragedy for them and devastation for the people of the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan," he said.He also expressed his condolences to Mr Lee's parents and family in Australia and paid tribute to the work Mr Lee did for his parish.