On the fifth day after the storm, desperation gave way to anarchy in parts of the Philippines. Police exchanged fire with apparent looters, and eight people were crushed to death when a hungry mob stormed a warehouse full of rice. Destroyed roads and other logjams tied up aid.
The confirmed death toll from Typhoon Haiyan climbed to 2,344, including almost 700 in the city of Tacloban on the island on Leyte. The count of the dead was up more than 500 from the day before, and seemed certain to pass the upper estimate of 2,500 given by the president.
Stories of despair and perseverance continued to emerge Wednesday from the disaster zone.
Born into chaos
The baby was delivered at a church where prayers seem to be going unanswered.
Her mother called her Yolanda, after the Filipino name for the typhoon that struck hours before she entered the world, fortunately unaware of the nightmare she was born into.
In the chaos after the storm, her mother, Lourdes, gave birth in a doorway of the church, in the devastated city of Tacloban. She walked two miles with her newborn daughter, umbilical cord still attached, to get to the medics.
Now they have each other, but no home, no money, no medicine.
At the church on Wednesday, there were people with wounds that needed treating, there were the elderly and infirm, but there was no aid from the government. Pews became beds for those in pain.
They wait in a sort of diocese for the displaced, where even the priest is losing faith.
“Food, medicine, water,” he said, listing the needs. “And I — it’s already the fifth day, I think. Five days already. No aid coming from our government yet.”
The church is only yards from what was a busy hospital. They can do nothing for the living there now, and the dead are left lying at the entrance.
‘Survival of the fittest’ at ruined airport
At the wrecked airport in Tacloban, about a dozen medical staff tended Wednesday to thousands of people. For the first time, there were anesthetics. Doctors were stitching open wounds without it for days.
A pregnant woman, 26, due at Christmas with her first child, writhed in agony on a wooden bench. A doctor tried to calm her down from an apparent panic attack, according to The Associated Press.
The news agency described the inside of the makeshift clinic this way:
“Babies screamed and despondent elderly patients sat in chairs, eating dry crackers. One woman nursed her newborn, signing a lullaby. Intravenous drip bags hung from nails driven into the walls and doorjambs."
Thelma Superable, 74, and her son, Danny, 51, said that they had walked and hitched rides for 20 miles to get there. She needed emergency dialysis. They said that when they reached the clinich, they were down to one bottle of water, an inch of water inside.
“I am trembling because I am hungry,” Danny Superable told the AP. “It’s survival of the fittest.”
In Guiuan, the typhoon ‘took everything out’
The typhoon first met mankind at Guiuan, a town of about 40,000 people on a peninsula that juts into the Pacific Ocean. At least 85 people were killed there, some when the storm blew open the roof of a shelter.
On Wednesday, some survivors showed a reporter and some U.S. Marines around, and were surprisingly cheerful, perhaps because they still cannot believe that they lived through the destruction.
“I thought I was never going to see the morning,” one man, named Vincent, told a reporter. “I thought I was really not going to make it.”
Vincent, speaking in good English, struggled for a moment to describe the minutes after the typhoon struck on Friday. He said that it was like a tsunami and earthquake at the same time.
“It shook all our walls, it took all our roofs, it took everything out,” he said. “We were all wet. We — some were dead because the walls, the walls crumbled down.”
Struggling to leave Tacloban, and vowing ‘I’ll come back’
At the airport in Tacloban, American and Philippine cargo planes roar. Each plane can take about 150 people to someplace safer but disappoints hundreds more left behind on the tarmac.
A woman named Alexa told The Associated Press that she and her mother had walked two hours to the airport in hopes of getting out of Tacloban. They were near the front of the line for a C-130 on Tuesday, but the crowd surged, and they had to back away.
They made a plan to leave by bus and try to get to relatives in Manila. Alexa, sitting on a curb and under an umbrella and crying, said that she would return eventually. She and her mother said that their government and the world had done nothing to help them.
“Filipinos have a saying: Weeds don’t die easily,” Alexa told the AP. “When it’s safe, when there is electricity, when it’s livable, I’ll come back.”
John Irvine contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed.