ST On The Ground

Uncertainty in typhoon-hit Tacloban

Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan plead with military for water as they wait in the sun on the airstrip for an evacuation flight in Tacloban, central Philippines, Thursday, Nov 14, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP 
Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan plead with military for water as they wait in the sun on the airstrip for an evacuation flight in Tacloban, central Philippines, Thursday, Nov 14, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP 

Today, we head for Tacloban, a once bustling city of 220,000 in the Philippines that Typhoon Haiyan has virtually wiped off the face of the earth.

It is a place where looting happens and soldiers just look the other way, where a child is stabbed for no reason at all, and the solemnity of a funeral is desecrated by gunfire.

There is no electricity all over the city, and there may not be for at least six months. There is no source of drinkable water, and anyone going there would not be reachable by any form of modern communications. Money has virtually no currency there.

It is therefore understandable why everyone is trying to get out of Tacloban. We really don't know what to expect.

It is difficult to get an accurate picture of what is really happening in Tacloban.

We have been told there is martial law there now. We have also been advised against bringing in items that could be clearly perceived as food or water because that would only be courting danger. We have been warned that even those providing help and relief are fair game.

Yet, we also see some signs of hope.

We see the huge effort the world is putting in to make sure Tacloban will get back on its feet. There is an unbelievable outpouring of grace both at Cebu's and Tacloban's airports. Even geographical enemies are coming together to pitch in.

This side of Tacloban's narrative compels us to take the risk. We wish to document an immovable proof that in the face of an unimaginable tragedy, there is a light within every man's heart that will always prevail.

rdancel@sph.com.sg