TACLOBAN, Philippines — Thousands of typhoon survivors swarmed the airport here Tuesday seeking a flight out, but only a few hundred made it, leaving behind a shattered, rain-lashed city short of food and water and littered with countless bodies.
Four days after Typhoon Haiyan struck the eastern Philippines, assistance is only just beginning to arrive. Authorities estimated the storm killed 10,000 or more across a vast swath of the country, and displaced around 660,000 others.
Tacloban, a city of about 220,000 people on Leyte island, bore the full force of the winds and the tsunami-like storm surges. Most of the city is in ruins, a tangled mess of destroyed houses, cars and trees. Malls, garages and shops were all stripped of food and water by hungry residents.
The United Nations said it released $25 million in emergency funds and was launching an emergency appeal for money.
Just after dawn Tuesday, two Philippine Air Force C-130s arrived at its destroyed airport along with several commercial and private flights. More than 3,000 people who camped out at the building surged onto the tarmac past a broken iron fence to get on the aircraft. Just a dozen soldiers and several police held them back.
“I was pleading with the soldiers. I was kneeling and begging because I have diabetes,” said Helen Cordial, whose house was destroyed in the storm. “Do they want me to die in this airport? They are stone hearted.”
Local doctors said they were desperate for medicine. Beside the ruined airport tower, at a small makeshift clinic with shattered windows, army and air force medics said they had treated around 1,000 people since the typhoon for cuts, bruises, lacerations, deep wounds.
International aid groups and militaries are rushing assistance to the region, but little has arrived.
The USS George Washington aircraft carrier was expected to arrive off the coast in about two days, according to the Pentagon.