TACLOBAN, Philippines – Gunfire forced the cancellation of a mass burial in Super Typhoon Haiyan-ravaged Philippines on Wednesday (November 13th) as authorities struggled to dispose of the dead, while anger among survivors at the slow trickle of aid turned deadly, AFP reported.
Eight people were crushed to death Tuesday when a huge crowd rushed a government rice store.
"One wall of our warehouses collapsed and eight people were crushed and killed instantly," the National Food Authority's Rex Estoperez said of the incident in Alangalang.
Thousands jostled and begged for seats on scarce flights out of the ruined city of Tacloban, where putrefying corpses compounded a growing health menace after one of the strongest storms on record killed thousands.
Attempts to bury some of the victims suffered a setback when gunshots halted a convoy travelling towards a communal grave.
Essential supplies are running low and increasingly desperate survivors clamouring to leave.
Navy doctor Emily Chang said doctors at the airport had run out of medicine.
The World Health Organisation said there were significant injuries that needed to be dealt with, even as medics worked to prevent outbreaks of diseases caused by cramped living conditions and dirty drinking water.
Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras admitted authorities had been overwhelmed by the sheer number of corpses. He said they had run out of body bags but have ordered thousands more to ensure there was an oversupply.
Overwhelmed and under-resourced rescue workers have been unable to provide food, water, medicines, shelter and other relief supplies to some of the 673,000 made homeless.
Meanwhile, the United States and Britain are sending warships carrying thousands of sailors to the Philippines, and US amphibious craft were also being deployed.
Aircraft carrier USS George Washington, with 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft aboard, was heading to the Philippines to join more than 200 US Marines already on the ground. A British warship was also underway, bound for the Philippines.
Hundreds of soldiers and police were patrolling the streets and manning checkpoints in Tacloban to try to prevent pillaging as a curfew remained in effect Wednesday. The government said roads were now passable throughout the area, raising hope that relief might finally reach those in need.