Tacloban, Philippines • After touring miles of roofless homes and shattered shantytowns destroyed by one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Wednesday that additional U.S. humanitarian aid would be sent to the Philippines and described the giant typhoon as a warning of future extreme weather in a warming world.
“No words can do justice to the level of destruction we’ve seen in this entire community,” Kerry said. “This is a devastation that is unlike anything I’ve seen at this kind of scale.”
An initial severe shortage of food and clean water in the first two weeks after Typhoon Haiyan made landfall on Nov. 8 has largely been alleviated. But 4 million people lost their homes to towering storm surge waves or gusts reaching 200 mph. The effort to rebuild them has barely begun.
The Philippine government raised the official death toll Wednesday to 6,069, with 27,665 injured and 1,779 missing. But local officials say the number of dead will continue to rise as more bodies are uncovered in the debris.
Running water has been restored in some central areas of Tacloban but is still not available across large areas of devastated Leyte and Samar islands. Full electricity service will take months to restore.
Kerry acknowledged the difficulty of applying climate science to any single meteorological event, but he cited the destruction here as a caution about what could happen if the world does not limit emissions of greenhouse gases.
“While no single storm can be attributed to climate change, we do know to a certainty that rising temperatures will lead to longer and more unpredictable monsoon seasons and will lead to more extreme weather events,” Kerry said. “Looking around here, you see an unmistakable example of what an extreme weather event looks like, and a reminder of our responsibility to act to protect the future.”