An assessment of disaster-related mortality post-Haiyan in Tacloban City
Introduction: Tacloban City was seriously affected by Typhoon Haiyan with 2321 deaths distributed across its 138 villages and subvillages. In January 2014, a team from the Department of Health conducted a mortality assessment to identify risk factors for deaths that occurred during Typhoon Haiyan.
Methods: A retrospective case-control study was conducted in the four coastal villages in Tacloban City with the highest numbers of typhoon-associated deaths. A case was defined as a person who died in Tacloban City during Typhoon Haiyan and whose body was recovered and identified. Controls were selected from surviving family members of cases. Information about typhoon-related knowledge, attitudes and practices of the cases was collected using a standardized questionnaire.
Results: There were 100 cases and 100 controls included in the study. The cause of death for all cases was drowning, and all bodies were found inside or near their house. Multivariate analysis identified that the significant risk factors for mortality due to Haiyan were not evacuating before the storm hit (odds ratio [OR] = 10.0; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.8–29.1) and exiting their house during the storm (OR = 3.6; 95% CI: 1.9–7.1). Proxies reported that all cases had heard about the coming typhoon, but that 88% did not understand the message about the storm surge. Ninety-five per cent of cases did not evacuate because they did not expect the magnitude of storm.
Conclusion: Warning messages delivered before and during emergencies should be conveyed in terms understood by the population at risk. We recommend that the results from this study be used to develop more effective messages to be used before future disasters.