Typhoon-hit city struggles with next-to-no supplies

BOGO, Philippines Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:47am EST

BOGO, Philippines Nov 13 (Reuters) - By lunchtime on Wednesday, the entire aid stockpile for nearly 70,000 people hit by Typhoon Haiyan on a devastated Philippine island could fit on the back of a pickup truck.

Sitting under the shattered roof of the stadium in Bogo, a city at the northern end of Cebu island, Mayor Celestio Martinez Jr. pointed to the paltry cache: half a palette of bottled water and five cardboard boxes of food bearing the label of a private charity.

"Somewhat, we've been overlooked," he said, smiling weakly.

Five days after Haiyan tore through the central Philippines, killing thousands and destroying whole towns, headlines have mostly focused on chaos in and around the city of Tacloban on the island of Leyte.

But further west, on Cebu, Haiyan left a trail of equally violent desolation. Aid is still only dribbling in, while the most basic of necessities are lacking.

Provincial officials say as many as 90 percent of buildings on the north of Cebu were badly damaged by winds and rain, which also flattened crops, downed power lines and blocked roads.

The official death toll stood at 57, compared to the provisional overall total of 1,883, a figure kept relatively low thanks to a lack of deadly storm surges and to timely evacuation.

Many areas, however, appear all but obliterated.

The road from Cebu city, the provincial capital, is lined with hundreds of children holding out their hands in despair or carrying crude signs reading: "We need food and water."

There are few aid trucks and military vehicles.

"The very immediate needs in these areas are food, water and temporary shelter," Neil Sanchez, the provincial disaster response chief, told Reuters.

There are fears in outlying areas of water-borne diseases, including cholera.

The provincial government has shipped seven truckloads of aid to affected areas, Sanchez said. Some international aid groups are active on a small scale, as are local charities.

"Thank God for the private organisations," he said.

In Bogo, 12 of 29 subdistricts were nearing the end of their three-day allotments of rice, canned food and instant noodles, said Christian Yurango, the local relief coordinator.

New supplies, he said, were expected by late afternoon, but not guaranteed. No aid had arrived for rebuilding shattered homes, leaving residents to scavenge.

POWER CUT, GRIME

At the local hospital, tucked in behind a line of palm trees barely left standing, a small generator fails to supply enough power to keep the lights on in the operating room or fans running in the overcrowded, grimy maternity ward.

Medicines and test samples are cooled by bags of ice trucked in from Cebu city, three hours away, chief nurse Cynthia Renile said.

Though the hospital appears overwhelmed by storm casualties, with beds spilling out into the hallways, Renile says the squalor and overcrowding are chronic. The only real difference now is the heat and the power cuts.

That might just be good enough for Jingle Poyos, 20 and heavily pregnant when the storm hit.

She and 50 others cowered in her great aunt's concrete home as the winds hit their peak. Early on Wednesday, she gave birth to a daughter, Nica, but no longer has a home to which she can bring her.

"We don't have a house now," she said. "No food, no water, nothing."

(Editing by Ron Popeski)

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