Typhoon Haiyan: 10,000 feared dead after storm hits Philippines - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 11 November

Typhoon Haiyan: 10,000 feared dead after storm hits Philippines

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 11 November

Photograph: Getty

By Stephen Exley

It has been described as “absolute bedlam”, “complete devastation” and “horrific”. But it is hard to find the words to do justice to the carnage left behind by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

As many as 10,000 people are estimated to have been killed by the storm, which reached the country’s eastern provinces of Leyte and Samar on Friday, before sweeping across six more islands.

More than 630,000 people are believed to have been displaced. Another 9.5 million across the country have been left without food, water or shelter.

Although a massive international relief operation rapidly got under way, initial efforts were largely thwarted by damage to infrastructure such as roads and airports, leaving rescue workers unable to reach many towns and villages.

“There’s an awful lot of casualties, a lot of people dead all over the place, a lot of destruction,” Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine Red Cross, told reporters. “It’s absolute bedlam right now, but hopefully it will turn out better as more and more supplies get into the area.”

Several towns were virtually destroyed by the typhoon which, at its peak, recorded wind speeds of almost 200mph. Much of the damage was caused by the surge of water into coastal areas: in the city of Tacloban, one of the worst-affected places, it reached a height of six metres.

The town of Guiuan in Samar province – population 40,000 – is reported to have been largely destroyed, while several settlements in the north of Cebu province suffered damage of between 80 and 90 per cent. Eighty per cent of Baco, a city of 35,000 in Oriental Mindoro province, was left under water, according to the United Nations.

“Entire parts of the coastline just disappeared,” said Jane Cocking, Oxfam’s humanitarian director. “Sizeable trees just bent over and [were] thrown about like matchsticks.”

The European Union has pledged an initial 3 million euros in aid, but it is clear that much more money is needed to deal with the fallout from the disaster.

The storm has now made landfall in north Vietnam, near the Chinese border, but has been downgraded to tropical storm status. Even so, the Vietnamese authorities moved almost 900,000 people to safe areas in the northern provinces to minimise potential loss of life.

On Sunday evening the official death toll stood at 255, but this figure will inevitably increase significantly in the coming days.

Photograph: Getty


1. What is a typhoon? Can you think of any other types of natural disasters?
2. In your opinion, do disasters like this bring out the best or the worst in people? Explain your reasoning.
3. What are the best ways for us to help victims of natural disasters?
4. We hear of natural disasters very frequently in the news. What might be the reasons for this?

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  • This lesson explores some of the ways to reduce the negative effects of climate change and has plenty of opportunity for debate.

Typhoon Haiyan assembly resources

  • Use this short film and assembly PowerPoint presentation to learn about the impact of Typhoon Haiyan.

Further news resources

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Write all about it

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What is the News?

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  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

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In the news archive index