These Terrified Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan Will Break Your Heart

As the tragedy unfolds, stunning numbers of the toll begin to emerge.

TakePart News Editor Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is a journalist who has worked in many corners of the world for major news organizations.

The devastation of people affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is painfully clear in the BBC video above, and the latest estimate is hard to fathom: Nearly 10 million people appear to have been affected by the storm and its aftermath.

Bob Kitchen, who heads the International Rescue Committee's emergency response team, said the disaster is too huge for all the details to be known with certainty, and even the early estimate that 10,000 have died is expected to change.

He fears it will change for the worse.

"It's a very, very populated end of the world," Kitchen told TakePart on Monday, in a brief interview in between the struggle to help his team get into the country. As of late Monday, three members of his team were on the ground, and seven more were trying to get into the country, where roads are washed out and the infrastructure has been wiped out. 

"This event had the potential of affecting 28 million people" through loss of access to utilities, roads, and services, Kitchen said. Specifics are hard to come by on the islands that have been battered by 20-foot walls of seawater and 147-mph winds, but the 10 million number is a safe bet, he said. 

The IRC's first aim will be to get people clean water, sanitation, and shelters, to avoid an outbreak of cholera or other illnesses that can quickly spread when people crowd into the structures that are left standing.

In an interview with The Associated Press, an American official who surveyed Tacloban, a city of more than 220,000, by helicopter gave a startling account.

"I don't believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way—every single building, every single house," U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy said.

Kennedy spoke at the airport where two Marine C-130 cargo planes were unloading supplies, among the first of the aid drops the Philippines will need for many days and weeks to come.

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