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  • Apr 25, 2014
  • Updated: 4:23pm

Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, struck the Philippines in November 2013 with winds of up to 190 mph (305 kph). At least 10,000 people died in one Philippine province alone.

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Philippine families retreated to Samar island cave as Haiyan roared by

Islanders spent six hours in the dark worried that surge would drown them

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 12:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 9:03am

Victims who survived the Philippines' super typhoon by huddling in a cave as a tsunami-like wave obliterated their community have now made it their home - reduced to Stone Age conditions with nowhere else to go.

Manuel Isquierdo and his wife sought refuge in the limestone den as Typhoon Haiyan - one of the strongest storms ever recorded - flattened the town of Mercedes on Samar island, washing away residents' livelihoods in the devastating early hours of November 8.

"It was past midnight when my wife and I decided to run up to the cave behind our house," the fisherman said.

"We were just in time. Our house crumpled to the ground soon after," the 38-year-old added.

The couple were joined by two other families and spent more than six hours in the dark, damp cavern as rising storm surge waters edged dangerously closer and closer to its entrance, frightened that they would drown or be swept out to sea.

"We could hear the typhoon outside. It sounded like a bulldozer," Isquierdo said. "We were afraid of the sea, afraid that the storm surge would flood the cave."

As the winds died down and waters subsided, the families stepped out of the cave to witness unimaginable destruction - their neighbourhood had been destroyed and they had been left with virtually nothing.

Since then, the cave has become a temporary home as Isquierdo works on rebuilding his wooden house on stilts near the Buyayawon river on Samar's Pacific coast.

The cave hosts the few possessions the Isquierdos and others were able to salvage.

A clothes line blocks the entrance and remnants of a wood fire lie in the corner.

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