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AC 360 Later

Desperate Times in Philippines

Aired November 12, 2013 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Anderson Cooper live from Tacloban Airport in the Philippines, where five days after Typhoon Haiyan, desperation for many here has set in.

This is a place where there is little food, where there is little water, and there are many, many people in need. Many people are trying to get out of here, out of the airport. There are scenes of people lining up all around me.

They have been lining up here all night long. They just wait at the airport. They frankly have nowhere else to go, because out there on the other side of the camera is what remains of Tacloban and it is not a pretty sight, dead bodies laying out near the wreckage of people's homes, people sleeping out in the street with little food, little water, and few answers, frankly, about the relief effort.

We're going to try to get answers over the course of the next hour. I just want to bring you up to date on all we have seen in the last 24 hours.


COOPER (voice-over): It's been five days since Super Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines. But still after all that time there's no official death toll, no concerted effort to retrieve the bodies of those who have died.

The cleanup in some badly hit areas that is barely started, if it's started at all. Everywhere you go, there are pleas for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is gone, our houses, everything. There's nothing to eat. There's nothing to drink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need more people to help -- to help the current situation.

COOPER: Help is on the way; 250 U.S. service members are on the ground in the Philippines and two more ships are on the way. But, right now, there simply isn't enough aid, and what aid there is isn't getting out to those who need it most.

Day after day, thousands come to Tacloban Airport hoping for a ride out, praying they can escape the devastation, the lack of food and water, the decaying bodies lying on the street. But with 800,000 people displaced, many are without options, while others continue to search for loved ones lost in the storm surge. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only one missing is my eldest daughter. I hope she's alive.

COOPER: This woman cries for her mother, who's still missing.

"I'm still here in Tacloban," she says. "I'm still alive."

Makeshift shelters for those left behind have sprung up all over the area, people sleeping wherever they can, desperate to find a dry, safe spot.

(on camera): People around here just have no place else to go. A lot of them who may have evacuated before the storm, they are now back in what used to be their homes. There's a makeshift shack somebody's constructed over there. They tried to collect all the things they could salvage. But it's not much.

(voice-over): In many places, not much is left but rubble and the sound of pets waiting for owns who may never return.

This makeshift coffin has a piece of rock with the name of a baby who's been placed inside. Marian P. Alcain is her name. She was only 1 year and three months old.

At this hospital in Tacloban, the wounded and sick wait for treatment, but the hospital has no electricity and few supplies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are admitting them as much as we can, because we cannot refuse them.

COOPER: It's already too late for this young mother cradling her dead child in her arms. "I'm going crazy," she says. "I want to go back home."

Home is not an option for her. It's not an option for many in this broken city.


COOPER: And Nick Paton Walsh joins me now.

Nick, in terms of the relief effort what are you seeing? Because when you go out in these neighborhoods, I haven't seen much of a relief effort.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We saw very little, indeed.

Every morning, you see this wave of planes coming in, but they're limited capacity what they can do. There's a cosmetic effort by the Philippine military chopping down a tree, rearranging some of the trash here.

But we have seen the scale of destruction here, quite a monumental challenge ahead. The real issue I think for many people in the next coming days is actually whether the government can match that scale of challenge with the industrial kind of level of aid they need. We haven't seen food or heavy machinery or any kind of presence here back to turn this place around against enough.

COOPER: You spent time recently or last night just kind of outside during night to see what it was like.

WALSH: It was utterly bizarre, almost like a ghost town. Night causes much devastation not to be visible. But you're still left with people really coming to terms in their own quiet confined spaces with the real loss that they have seen around them.

COOPER: Let's take a look.


WALSH (voice-over): It does hide some of Tacloban's misery, but locals must now huddle about what little they have left. The smell of death weighing heavy, so many bodies still unfound, they even hunt for them at night.

A dog has led them to this spot where Wan Chow (ph) has today watched them dig up his son and just now his daughter. As the typhoon picked up, she suddenly stopped answering his worried text messages.

(on camera): This is not her home here, no?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It's over there, that place there.

WALSH: So the wind carried her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the flood and the wind.

WALSH (voice-over): Their mother is still buried somewhere here.

(on camera): How will you rebuild, yourself?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just by working and look for a living.

WALSH (voice-over): The debris, police checkpoints, burning tires, signs that security fears, chaos mean the aid mission isn't moving yet. People left here turning to the church for physical shelter, not spiritual solace, counting those spared and those lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Granddaughter and second daughter.

(on camera): Have you found the bodies?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter is missing. Not yet. It's almost since November 8 until now, their bodies gone.

WALSH (voice-over): One repeated complaint, where is their government? It looks like the end of the world because for so many here, it was.


COOPER: I want to talk about the relief efforts going on with Ben Hemingway from USAID and Geoff Pinnock, who is from the World Food Program, WFP.

In terms of WFP, what are you doing in terms of distributing food?

GEOFFREY PINNOCK, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: We're working with the SWD, the Department of Social Welfare.

We have started distributing food that was here already in town that we acquired yesterday for the SWD. They're distributing in the city and in barangays around. That distribution is scaling up today.

COOPER: When you distribute it, how do you go about doing that?

PINNOCK: The SWD is forming family packs at this moment. They're being put on to trucks and taken to different barangay and there they are distributed. From here, we expect to scale up to larger-scale distributions.

COOPER: When do you hope to sort of actually make a big imprint, to make a big impact here?

PINNOCK: The food that was acquired yesterday is a good start. It's about 2,500 metric tons in the city. There's more on the way. We have high energy biscuits coming in.

It's got going to take a little while to get the high energy biscuits in, but the first ones arrived today. But, meanwhile, the 2,500 tons of rice is a good start.

COOPER: What's been the biggest holdup, the most difficult thing? I know the roads have been impassable in a lot of places.

PINNOCK: Yes, logistics. Transport. Every vehicle you see has been affected by the storm.

The roads are just starting to open up now. And we have trucks coming up from Cebu and down from Manila to support the effort.

COOPER: And how about for USAID? What are you guys up to?

BEN HEMINGWAY, USAID: For USAID, we're working in full support of the government of the Philippines' response efforts. So, we're prioritizing water, food, hygiene, and sanitation and also bringing in a massive Department of Defense airlift to make sure needed assistance gets to communities as soon as possible.

COOPER: Are you basically getting stuff to the airport and then it's up to local authorities to distribute it? Or are you also involved in the distribution?

HEMINGWAY: We will be directly distributing to some of the outlying communities with the government of the Philippines. We're also supporting the agencies like the World Food Program to rapidly increase their logistical capacity here in the last mile to make sure needed equipment gets out.

COOPER: When do you hope to see stuff really going out to people?

HEMINGWAY: We have seen things going out to communities already. Yesterday, some Marine C-130s landed and we were able to move things forward to Guiuan, which was the hardest-hit area on eastern Samar. Today, we're bringing in 20,000 shelter kits, hygiene kits. We will be bringing anything and everything the government of the Philippines asks us to move forward.

COOPER: What's in a shelter kit? Because that's huge. You go out there and people have no place to sleep. They're sleeping under tin, corrugated tin, they're sleeping outside. What does a shelter kit have?

HEMINGWAY: Immediately, they will be provided with plastic sheeting, so that's key especially with the continued rainfall to keep the water off them.

Until we're able to actually build the logistical pipeline, they will be using materials that they're able to scavenge to actually build a frame. But as you have seen in most of the areas, there's wood, there's nails, some rope. Right now we're mostly concerned with getting that sheeting over their head while the additional resources are brought to bear.

COOPER: How does this compare to other operations you have worked on?

PINNOCK: So far from down here, this is enormous. We have priorities to stabilize at least three major urban populations. And then we have to move into the coastal areas with urgency almost immediately.

COOPER: Because, when you look around, everything here is gone.

HEMINGWAY: Yes, sir.

This -- although not as widespread as it could have been, the areas that the typhoon did transit are nearly completely destroyed. Most major infrastructure is damaged. Schools, hospitals, clinics, they're pretty much all gone. So critical, first of all, is to restore that last-mile logistical access so we can start moving commodities into these areas.

COOPER: I'm really glad you guys are here. Thank you for your hard work. Dan Hemingway, Geoffrey Pinnock, appreciate it, thanks, World Food Program and USAID.

When we come back, we will talk to a member of the U.S. Air Force, find out what they are doing here on the ground. There's been a big uptick in U.S. involvement here over the last 24 hours. We will talk to him ahead. We will be right back.



COOPER: This rain is the last thing people here need. It's been raining on and off throughout the day.

It just adds to the misery of this place. Just about everywhere you go, you find people just searching for their lost loved ones. There's a man there -- down there who's cooking who pointed us to the body of his wife underneath that sheet.

There's another person who's died, has been wrapped up in some cloths, some sacks, and left out. The smell in this whole area really is very -- is very strong. There's no way to know how many people have died in this area. But you can smell it in the air. It's everywhere.


COOPER: And that's just a few blocks from where I'm standing.

You find bodies still here all over the place. There's a few people actually collecting. There's very little organization in terms of the Philippines side. And that's one of the frustrating things for people here. They're not getting information. They're not getting food. They're not getting water.

And their needs are great. They really have nothing. Everything has been wiped out.

I want to bring in Barbara Starr, because we're seeing an increased effort now by the United States here on the ground and also an increased promised effort.

Barbara, I know you just got off I believe the phone from General Kennedy, who's frustrated. What are you hearing?


In the next several hours, he's headed in your direction. The effort to get that air field up and running, he told me they expect to have nighttime operations beginning this evening your time in Tacloban. That, of course, as you know better than anybody is going to be a huge help.

The next big step, at least two amphibious warships are on the way from Japan. They will bring very specialized capability. They will have tracked vehicles. Think of it as vehicles with like tank treads on them that will be able to move out into these remote areas, go right through the debris if need be and get supplies out to the distribution points in the most hard-hit areas.

There will also be more helicopters on board these ships and more ability for water purification. This now puts a total within the next couple of days of seven U.S. military ships in the area that will have the ability to deliver aid by air, by land, water purification and start bringing in supplies. Plus, getting the airport open around the clock will significantly increase, they hope, the number of flights.

But General Kennedy also telling me he's very frustrated right now. That was certainly his view at the moment. He needs a certain type of aid. The world community is responding as it always does in these situations. But as the U.S. commander on the ground, he needs specific help.

And he says what his priorities are nothing fancy. He wants shelters for people. He wants to get people off the streets and into shelters, more water, more food, more medical help, although he believes the medical facilities in the immediate area are pretty good at this point.

But, Anderson, and this isn't so nice to talk about on TV, sanitation -- what General Kennedy was telling me is, there are countries that want to send portable toilets. It's going to take a long time to get enough there. And he doesn't need that kind of fancy equipment. He is looking at trying to burn sewage just to get as much done as he possibly can -- Anderson.

COOPER: You know, Barbara, on the medical front, and you can maybe just pass this along, I have talked to a lot of people who say that the local -- there are three local hospitals. They're not accepting patients anymore. They say they don't have electricity, they don't have supplies. Right now, patients say the only place they can go is just basically right over there.

There's what used to be a small clinic. It's now overrun with patients. I talked to two doctors there, both of whom say they are overwhelmed. They need more doctors. They say they don't have enough supplies. What's really frustrating, they say they don't even have enough water and food at that clinic to deal with all the people they are seeing coming to them.

There are people -- an old man died there last night. Three people have given birth there. They're dealing with all manner of injuries. So there's still a lot of needs. That's just here at the airport.

I want to bring in Captain Jon Shamess, correct?


COOPER: All right, good. I didn't mess it up.

You're here. You're with the Air Force. What's your job here?

SHAMESS: I'm with 320th Special Battalion Squadron out of Kadena Air Force Base Japan. And I'm here with a small contingent of combat controllers, pararescue and SERE. And our primary job is to help the Filipinos reestablish this airfield and make sure it's efficient for 24 hours a day.

COOPER: That's the priority, to get this up and running, this airport, 24 hours. How long is that going to take and what does that require?

SHAMESS: Well, for example, yesterday, we arrived and the lights on the runway weren't working. We had the ability to set up lights. As of yesterday, the lights are working again.

But then the next question is, can we do night operations? What we bring to the fight or the effort is to assist doing 24-hour operations, which includes 12-hours-a-night operations.

COOPER: So you're hoping to -- are you hoping -- can you put a time frame on when you think you might get it up and running?

SHAMESS: Tonight, right now, it's operational.


SHAMESS: So we're using our radios, we're using our capabilities to make sure this is running efficiently. Starting tonight, basically 1800, our guys will be controlling aircraft, controlling special operations group aircraft, all out of Kadena Air Base Japan, to bring in more supplies and evacuate refugee.

COOPER: That will be awesome, as you know, because that's a huge thing just getting -- and yesterday with the bad weather, it was hard to get planes in. You also have some medical assessment capabilities.

SHAMESS: Yes. We do have pararescue with us. Their primary purpose is personnel recovery, disaster response. They can provide aid up to trauma level, basically get them to sustain them to a high- level facility. We can help out with the locals with that as well.

COOPER: Well, I appreciate all your efforts. Thank you so much. We're glad you're here. Thank you, Captain Jon Shamess with the U.S. Air Force.

It really is a ramping up of the efforts by the United States here, and, hopefully, once this airport is up and running within 24 hours, but I got to tell you, the scene here at the airport is really desperate.

There are -- right now, there are hundreds of people here. If you just look, they're all -- these people are all just waiting. People just kind of come here to the airport hoping maybe to get on a Philippine air force C-130 that will take them somewhere else, or they have just come here because they have nowhere else to go.

There's at least a roof over their heads. But the facilities here, it's overrun. It is really -- it's a very chaotic situation here. If the airport can get under control, that could be a good base of operations to move forward.

When we come back, I will show you what I saw when we went out into the neighborhoods just a few hours ago. We will be right back.


COOPER: And welcome back.

I'm Anderson Cooper. We're live here in Tacloban, probably the hardest-hit area that we know about. There are still a lot of areas we don't know about in the Southern Philippines.

This is the airport where people just are flocking to. People -- just hundreds of people, thousands of people come here, have been coming here, streaming here for days now. And they spend all day here, often all night here. I was here at 2:00 a.m. walking through. There were no lights, and people are just sitting. They don't -- they have no place to sleep. But they have nowhere to go. They bring whatever possessions they can.

A lot of them are hoping to get on a C-130, hoping the Philippine military will take them to Manila if they are injured, if they have family members, that they can be cared for. But there's no guarantees for a lot of people. And the lines to get on those C-130s are very long.

This is the first time Philippine military personnel are now actually starting to clean up the area around the airport. This is the first time we're actually seeing this. So that is, I suppose, a sign of progress. But this is five days since the typhoon. And this is the first real tangible sign of a cleanup of the airport area that we're seeing.

As we heard, just heard from Captain Jon Shamess from the Air Force, they're hoping -- they're planning -- the U.S. military is planning to get this airfield up and running on a 24-hour basis by tonight. That would be the first time. That would be a big help in terms of getting relief in here.

Then the concern is and the difficulty is getting it from the airport out to some of these areas. Even getting it a few blocks, though, would be a huge improvement, because as you're about to see, a couple blocks from here, there is just nothing but misery.


COOPER (voice-over): In Tacloban, the misery is beyond meaning.

(on camera): This is your home?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. This is my house.

COOPER (voice-over): "The first, the first," she says. "Our house was one of the first to come down."

Jubelyn Tanyega (ph) sought shelter from the storm surge in this bus with her husband and six children. She survived. They were swept away.

(on camera): And has anyone come to help you?


COOPER: "I really want to see them," she says, "even if it's just their bodies." She has found the body of her husband and shows us the bodies of three of her children. She's covered the kids as best she can. Now she searches for her three other children. She doesn't believe they survived the storm.

(on camera): Where will you sleep tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here in the street, anywhere. I don't know where I go.

COOPER (voice-over): In Tacloban, there isn't any place to go.

Juanito Martinez (ph) is living in a makeshift shelter. His wife, Gina (ph), and daughter are covered with sacks nearby.

"I really want somebody to collect their bodies," he says. "I want to know where they're taken, so then I can light a candle for them." Juanito cooks some rice and noodles for his neighbors. One of the men tells us he wants to call his mother in Manila. He's desperate to tell her that he and his daughter survived, though his wife and two other children are dead. We dial her number on our satellite phone.

"They're gone. They're all gone," he says. "I don't know why this happened to me."

You won't find answers here in Tacloban. You will only find loss. You will only find misery. With so little help, that is just not going away.


COOPER: Just about everybody you meet in neighborhoods -- in the neighborhood around here seems to have lost somebody or is searching for somebody.

I met more and more. Even after shooting that piece, we met another woman who was searching for three of her children. She also -- her husband is also dead. Then we saw a fire department, a local fire department which was picking up bodies, which was one of the few groups that we saw actually removing bodies.

But there are a lot of people out there. And that's really why there's no accurate count of how many people have lost their lives here, because there's been no concerted effort to retrieve those who have died. Many of them, they're all still just out there laying where they fell.

I want to bring in an American missionary I talked to just before we went on air by the name of John Wynn. He's an American missionary who lives here in Tacloban who really escaped the storm surge with his life.

I just want to warn you, the audio in this interview, when we first started, there was a C-130 coming in, so it's a little bit loud, but stick with it. Here's John Wynn.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: So, John, explain what happened to you during the storm.

JOHN WYNN, AMERICAN MISSIONARY/TYPHOON SURVIVOR: The short of it is, we were -- we were in our house expecting, of course, strong wind and rain. But just a short time after the typhoon started, we watched a couple of trees fall in the yard. And then I noticed under the front door this black water began to come in, a rather strong current.

And then I looked out the window sill. And by the time I comprehended what I saw, the water had almost risen to the level of the window sill. It was quite high, coming in the door quite fast. And at that time I realized that we were -- we were in some serious trouble.

COOPER: How fast was the water rising?

WYNN: I wish I could rate it. I would say we were on the entertainment ceiling in -- I'm sorry, entertainment center. We were in the ceiling, I would say, in less than -- I'm going to -- and of course, I could be wrong, but it seemed to me to be about maximum two or three minutes. Maximum. And that's about the level of water in our house was around eight feet probably.

COOPER: You finally got out of Tacloban. When did you finally leave?

WYNN: We finally left -- we landed here yesterday about 12:30 or so, noontime.

COOPER: What do you make of the relief effort that you've been seeing, that you were able to see here?

WYNN: Well, I -- I really did not -- the relief effort that I saw was people doing whatever they could do on their own to get food. Everything's been looted as far as I know. And it's not because people are bad people. It's because people need food. They need water. They're trying to take care of their families.

And it seems like they're -- at the time that I was there -- now it could have changed drastically since I left. But while we were there, people were -- every day we had a network of people in our church, Grace Baptist church in Tacloban. And every day they were going out, trying to find water, trying to find rice, trying to find any type of food, medicines that they could find.

There was no communication, it seemed, to regular people, unless they would go to certain locations like the airport or the city hall. They were having a very hard time finding things. I hope that -- the purpose of my doing the interview is to just -- just tell everybody that will listen that when I left they needed help and they needed help now. Not in a few days, not in a few hours. They needed it now, and they needed a lot of it.

COOPER: Well, that's certainly still the case. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us, John. Thank you.

WYNN: Thank you.


COOPER: And that is certainly still the case at this difficult hour. When we come back, we're going to show you the children affected by this storm.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have homes. We lost our homes. And we have nothing to eat. We really need help now. I hope you are watching and you see us on TV. We really need the help. Because our children don't have rice, no milk, no water, no clean water. And they have fevers.


COOPER: The people here in Tacloban have great dignity and deserve more than what they have gotten, frankly. And it's -- it's stunning when you go out into the neighborhoods and you talk to people, and you find mothers who are all alone, searching for their dead children and have had no help and have had no official help, have had nobody other than other neighbors trying to help them find their kids.

Paula Hancocks' joining us.

Paula, you've been here from the beginning. Have you seen a relief effort? I mean, have you seen an impact out there of -- I mean, we've seen flights coming in and stuff. There's a lot of -- I know people working hard. But is it getting out there?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly not organized. I mean, it's obviously going somewhere, but it's just a drop in the ocean compared to what's needed. I mean, we're five days on. And the people that are coming and talking to me are saying, "I want food. I want water. Why are the dead bodies still by the side of the road?"

COOPER: Five days gone.

HANCOCKS: It's incredible. And they've been there for five days. And of course, this is where people are trying to live in the rubbles of their home.

COOPER: Right. Family members are living next to their dead children. They're living next to their dead husbands, their dead wives.

HANCOCKS: And you look around here. Most people who are here are holding a child or holding a baby. Not only are they concerned about the fact they can't get food and water for their baby, but they're concerned about the fact the security concerns are getting more intense. So they are desperate to get out. And it really is a humanitarian airlift at the moment. It's a massive evacuation, an attempt. And of course, the ones that really want to get out are those with the small children.

COOPER: And the line to get out. I mean, is -- you can't see it from here -- you may be able to see those umbrellas behind me. It stretches for hundreds of yards, I'm told, right now out in the sun. People just line up, and they're just there all day long for a handful of flights out, the chance to get out. Because that's really the only option.

Because it's not as if they're able to shelter someplace and get food and get water. There's just nothing to be had right now.

HANCOCKS: Exactly. I spoke to one woman just a moment ago. And she said, "It's a miracle that I survived the typhoon and my baby survived the typhoon." She literally reached out as the water came in and grabbed her baby and saved her baby. And she asked me, "Am I going to survive this? Am I actually going to survive the airport?" That's how incredible it is.

COOPER: You've been looking at the effect at kids -- on kids.

HANCOCKS: Absolutely. There is this one heart-warming story. But unfortunately most of it is not heart-warming. Let's watch it.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): Eleven-month-old Anthony is blissfully unaware how lucky he is to be alive. During the storm, Jenelyn Manocsoc sat her son on her head to keep him above the water level while she held onto the roof rafters.

JENELYN MANOCSOC, TYPHOON SURVIVOR: All I hear, many crying, many people crying. Many people saying, "Help, help!"

HANCOCKS: She lost her husband and many other relatives.

MANOCSOC: No, I don't know where we'll go. I hope we can survive. It's very -- it's very traumatic. It's very hard.

HANCOCKS: Thousands are trying to take their children away from the devastation and the worsening security situation.

Jovelyn Dy had twin boys three weeks ago. She's too terrified to stay.

JOVELYN DY, TYPHOON SURVIVOR: When we wake up and there's some people inside our house, looters. And they could harm my children and us, as well.

HANCOCKS (on camera): But in the midst of all this pain, there was one ray of hope in this makeshift hospital.

(voice-over) A baby girl was born Monday in the most challenging of circumstances. Her mother, Emily Segalis (ph), was brought in by neighbors. Pregnant women are currently evacuated to give birth, but Segalis (ph) was too close. CAPT. ANTONIO TAMAYO, PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE: The baby came out and cried right away. There wasn't any problem. And there was no bleeding. So it was a perfect delivery in a very imperfect environment.

HANCOCKS: Once the baby was born, the entire hospital applauded. A baby named Bea Joy, bringing relief in the midst of such intense human suffering.


HANCOCKS: And there have been, I think, three birth in that makeshift hospital, which is -- for this area is the only -- is the only hospital. You had talked to somebody who said that they didn't know what a storm surge was. They didn't know to evacuate.

HANCOCKS: Yes. This sent a chill through me; it really did. This man came up to me and said, "Why didn't they call it a tsunami? We know the word 'tsunami.' If the government had mentioned it will be like a tsunami, we'd have evacuated." And the fact...

COOPER: Nobody anticipated -- they didn't know the surge of water was going to be coming through? That's what caused so many deaths.

HANCOCKS: Exactly. They assumed it was a high tide or a few waves. And he said if the word "tsunami" had been mentioned to people, so many more people would have evacuated, and so many more people would be alive today.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We're going to be joined by all our correspondents. We'll be back in a moment.


COOPER: This is one of the few houses that are still standing, pretty solidly built. Some of the houses that are made out of concrete seemed to survive the storm.

But you just get a sense of the power of the storm. Look, here's a Jeep that's been slammed into the house. And then there's this truck that's been lifted up from somewhere and put on top of the Jeep.

And the smell of rotting -- the smell of decay is everywhere around here. There's a cow. Yes, that's a dead cow. And it looks like behind it there's the body of a person covered in a green cloth.


COOPER: And that's not an uncommon sight here, unfortunately, still, five days into this storm. Our Andrew Stevens went out with the mayor of Tacloban. Here's what he saw.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Tacloban City, they're calling him The Ghost. Many people here thought that the city's mayor, Alfred Romualdez, had died in the typhoon.

ALFRED ROMUALDEZ, MAYOR, TACLOBAN CITY: I was in that building, which is by the beach. And the waves were hitting the roof of that building.

STEVENS: He's taking me to the scene of his miraculous escape.

This was the family resort in the hardest-hit part of the city, right on the edge of the sea. He takes me through the shattered shell. The mayor and 14 others were here when Haiyan struck.

ROMUALDEZ: And another concrete wall there.

STEVENS: The surge devastated the building. Six-inch-thick concrete walls were smashed like tissue paper, he says.

ROMUALDEZ: Then suddenly, boom, the door bang. The other one door blasted open. Water gushed in.

STEVENS: As the waters rose, seven took their chances outside, while the mayor and the rest climbed into the ceiling space.

ROMUALDEZ: Here the water was going up. So we had to go all the way in there where we climbed all the way up here.

STEVENS (on camera): Here.

ROMUALDEZ: No. We had to move this over there.

STEVENS: And how high did the water go?

ROMUALDEZ: Almost to the ceiling here.

STEVENS (voice-over): And there they stayed until it was safe. All 14 survived. But how, when so many perished around them?

ROMUALDEZ: Like that, you're just free. And then you have to really think before you do something, can you do it? You have to know your capabilities.

STEVENS: But it wasn't over yet. He still had to find whether his family had survived in another house about a mile away. They had.

ROMUALDEZ: My wife kept saying, "See, I told you, Daddy's going to come. I told you he's going to come." And I was the first one there.

STEVENS: It was an extraordinary escape, but back in the car he tells me that so many more would have survived, if there had been a simple change in the warnings his town was given.

ROMUALDEZ: We've done drills on tsunami. And when we do this tsunami, almost about 80 percent of them really get out. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And Andrew Stevens joins me now, along with Paula Hancock and Nick Paton Walsh.

Andrew, you've been here all throughout. You've been here during the storm. How frustrated are you by the relief effort here? I mean, have you seen much of a relief effort?

STEVENS: Increasingly frustrated. And obviously, not just me, Anderson. I mean, you walk around downtown Tacloban, and there's piles of rotting garbage. There's carcasses of animals. And there's no real evidence of organized recovery, organized relief going on.

I saw a van which was handing out packages of three-day relief. That was perhaps for 50 people. There are thousands, tens of thousands of people who have been affected. They're still saying -- they're still walking up to us and saying, "We have no food. We need water. We need help."

So at the moment, the frustration levels down there are extraordinarily high. And I don't sense they're still really getting a grip on making this problem, as it should be made, just ramping up to the scale that's needed.

COOPER: You know, Richard Brennan (ph) from the WHO was quoted on NPR today saying that, if Haiti is a 10, the Philippines is 11 in terms of the difficulty of an operation like -- like this.

I mean, really, everything has been destroyed here. There is -- there's very little now to work with.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Demolition not really a construction job here. They have to go in and clear vast amounts of the town. That's just to get rid of dead bodies, to remove initial health risk.

We're standing on an airport here that's getting a lot of military attention perhaps because the media are standing here. But all we've seen all day are dozens of people simply trying to leave. There's nothing for them left in that town at all. That's the issue this part of the world has to deal with right now.

What do you do with the people who used to live here right now? What can you provide them back where they used to live?

HANCOCKS: The problem they do have with the recovery efforts is very easy to criticize. But of course, the first responders who usually deal with these kind of typhoons are the victims here. They have warehouses filled with goods that they usually use with the typhoons that hit the country all the time -- they're based around here. They're gone. They're destroyed. So they're basically starting from scratch.

COOPER: The local police force, a lot of them, according to the mayor, a lot of them didn't show up in the wake of this. Obviously, they had their own issues to worry about, their own families to take care of.

It's hard to -- I mean, I don't think pictures, as much -- as many different pictures as we take, it's really hard to get in that small little camera lens just kind of the scope of the devastation, even though it's not as big as the tsunami in 2004 in Banda Aceh, as we saw in Sri Lanka. In this area, though, it's total.

WALSH: It's complete, particularly down on the waterfront area where a lot of the shantytowns are. That is absolutely flattened.

And the question, the real question here is, how many people actually heeded the advice of the authorities to get out, to evacuate before this hit?

Now I've been hearing a lot of stories about people sending out their wives and children and then staying back at their house to guard the property from whatever. A lot of people going back before the storm started, as well, Anderson. And if you look at the devastation down there, you -- it will take a long time to actually find out what is under that rubble.

And consider that this was a 600-kilometer-wide storm. The eye passed us here, we're told, about 10 kilometers to the south, 8 miles to the south. You're talking about a swath of devastation right down this coast.

COOPER: When we were covering the tsunami in Japan just a few years ago, I remember on day one or even day two there were members of the Japanese civil defense force, the national defense force out, even though they didn't have heavy earth-moving equipment. They were out with sticks, going through the rubble trying to find survivors, trying to find those who were lost. I haven't seen that out. I haven't seen a large Philippine military presence out in these areas.

We've seen it here at the airport, and we're seeing they're cleaning up now here parts of the airport, which is certainly a good start. But have you seen that in your time out in the field?

HANCOCKS: No. I mean, the search-and-rescue operation doesn't even appear to have got started as far as I can see. I've spoken to officials to the president, and he said we're focusing on the living.

But the search and rescue just never seemed to materialize. I mean, in Japan you barely saw a dead body after day two, because they were systematically going through and trying to retrieve bodies and find people who were still alive. And they did find people who were still alive. Here, I don't know about you.

COOPER: I haven't seen any dogs searching. I haven't seen any people.

HANCOCKS: I've seen two dogs. In five days I've seen two dogs.

STEVENS: Locals simply trying to fix the problems themselves. The big question is how many people lost their lives in this. From 10,000 to -- they're going to have to painstakingly go through the debris in this town to see how many lost their lives here. The smell, as you all know, is remarkably overpowering. It's so much of it. That gives you a real sense, really, of how bad the devastation was.

WALSH: And this whole relief story is all about the victims, about what happens to them over the next week or so. Can they hold out?

We're getting stories, hearing stories of lootings for three or four days now. And looting is a bit of a moot point. These are people just desperate to stay alive.

The military presence does serve a purpose, though. It gives a semblance of there is authority here. And that's what's needed. You can't have a town which is lawless. You can't have a town where people think they can do and have to do what they want. So the military is there. It is making a difference. But without aid, that difference doesn't really matter.

COOPER: And most people I've talked to would like to see more military out there, you know, on their blocks, you know, helping out, even searching for their loved ones. Because there are -- there are mothers searching for their children. And it's just a sickening sight to see on day five of this.

Guys, thank you all for all your reporting. We'll be right back. We'll have more here from Tacloban.


COOPER: Welcome back. Let's get a quick check of the other headlines making news. Isha Sesay joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, HLN ANCHOR: Anderson, two Americans kidnapped from an oil field supply ship off the coast of Nigeria last month are free. The U.S. State Department won't give any more details due to privacy concerns.

The captain of the Costa Concordia didn't fall into a life boat as he claims but jumped into it. That's according to a crew member testifying at the captain's manslaughter trial in Italy. The captain also faces a charge of abandoning ship. Thirty-two people were killed when the Costa Concordia hit a rock and capsized in January 2012.

And Anderson, the new One World Trade Center on the left is America's tallest skyscraper, dethroning Chicago's Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower. A panel of international architects ruled the massive spire atop the New York tower was counted, making it 1,776 feet tall, a number symbolizing freedom and a proud day for many New Yorkers -- Anderson.

COOPER: Isha, thanks very much.

That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.