Mass Burials Begin as Philippines Aid Trickles In

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International aid is now trickling into the central Philippines where Typhoon Haiyan struck six days ago. The USS George Washington aircraft carrier arrived Thursday, along with 21 helicopters, to reach inaccessible areas.

The epic storm has taken the lives of more than 4,400 people -- a number that's likely to rise.

Thousands lined up at the airport in Tacloban Thursday, hoping to leave an island that's been wiped out by the storm of a lifetime.

"We've got no electricity, no phones so people back home have no idea if we're alive, dead or not," one man from the United Kingdom said.

Find out how you can help. Give to CBN Disaster Relief.

CBN News Sr. International Correspondent George Thomas is on the ground in the Philippines. He spoke with us by phone about what he is seeing and what people need the most at this time.

CBN Disaster Relief is on the ground, where Operation Blessing's David Darg described the scene as one of the most chaotic relief situations he's ever witnessed.

"We're at Tacloban airport, and finally relief supplies have started to come in," he said. "Operation Blessing supplies are being unloaded from a plane that just landed."

"The scene at the airport is extremely chaotic -- thousands of people at the gates, trying to get in, desperate for a flight out of here," he continued. "And today I went around the city and really got a sense of why they're so desperate to escape."

"Tacloban is destroyed, completely devastated," Darg said. "They say a 20-foot wall of seawater, like a tsunami, just rushed in and smashed the businesses and really left nothing in its wake."

"And, understand, the logistics -- we're on an island here," he added. "The only way in is by air. Boats aren't really an option because the port's been smashed."

Relief organizations are also struggling to deliver supplies because there's no gasoline on the island. Survivors unable to leave are waiting for supplies.

"It's chaotic," typhoon survivor Daniel Romualdez said. "I don't know where to get food so we just wait for help."

In the meantime, Filipinos have begun to lay their dead to rest, with the city of Tacloban holding its first mass burial Thursday. Officials lowered 100 bodies in black bags into graves.

There are also continued reports of gunfire and violence in Tacloban. A local official described the looting as "self-preservation," not criminal acts.

"There was total breakdown of law and order -- each man to himself," Romualdez said.

Meanwhile, health officials are concerned about the spread of disease. With so little water, contaminated water is sometimes the only source available.

"I think we're all extremely distressed that this is day six and we have not managed to reach everyone," United Nations Under Secretary-General Valerie Amos said.

The U.N. says Haiyan displaced around 920,000 people and affected a total of 11.8 million people in the Philippines.

In the next few days, the global body will distribute high-energy biscuits and other food, plus tents and clean drinking water.

CBN Disaster Relief is working to clear damaged roads and distribute water purification devices.

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Mark Martin

Mark Martin

CBN News Reporter

Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.