Connect to share and comment

Typhoon death toll at 1,833, Aquino says earlier estimate "too much"

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the central Philippines has risen to 1,833 by Wednesday with 84 people listed as missing, as President Benigno Aquino said the earlier estimate of 10,000 dead may be "too much."

"There was emotional trauma involved with that particular estimate," Aquino told CNN in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, adding the sources "were too close to the incident (and) did not have (a) basis" when they came up with the figure.

"The figure I have now is about 2,000 but this might still get higher," Aquino said, adding that "about 2,500, is the number we are working on as far as deaths are concerned."

He added that the sheer number of people affected by the disaster is "quite daunting."

On the deteriorating law and order situation in typhoon-affected areas, Aquino said the government has deployed an additional 2,000 police and soldiers to restore order and aims to expedite the national government's takeover of local government functions.

Meanwhile, the United Nations on Tuesday launched an appeal for more than $300 million to provide humanitarian assistance to typhoon-hit regions.

U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos launched the flash appeal from the capital Manila, where she is surveying the damage left by Haiyan, which ripped through nine regions in Southeast Asia over the weekend.

"The appeal of $301 million covers an initial period of six months," said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman Jens Laerke in Geneva. "The humanitarian community continues to scale up its operations to provide lifesaving aid. Many areas do remain inaccessible, we are reaching into them little by little," he said.

Nearly 11 million people have been affected by the storm which has also displaced nearly 700,000 people, according to the OCHA. U.N. agencies in the affected regions say urgent supplies of food, clean water, shelter and medicines are needed.

The OCHA said that the majority of the displaced are now in evacuation centers, with the rest in host communities or makeshift shelters.

"Water supply and power are cut. Much of the food stocks and other goods are destroyed. Many health facilities are not functioning and medical supplies (are) quickly being exhausted," the U.N. humanitarian relief arm said in its latest action plan update.

The World Health Organization is working with the government to set up field hospitals, as personnel and medical supplies are arriving in the country.

The United Nations and other relief agencies report that transport logistics remain the biggest challenge due to the widespread damage to infrastructure and the large amount of debris blocking airports, roads and other access routes. Power lines have been cut and, in some places, heavy ships have been thrown inland.

The World Food Program said wrecked infrastructure is making humanitarian efforts a "logistics nightmare."

The agency has asked for $83 million for logistics, food and emergency telecommunications equipment.

Forty-four metric tons of High Energy Biscuits are due to arrive in the country Wednesday from the U.N. Humanitarian Response Depot in Dubai, with additional biscuits and rice being mobilized from the region, the statement said.

The hampered humanitarian access is also "contributing to a breakdown in law and order as some desperate people loot shops for food and water," U.N. refugee agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said, briefing the press from Geneva.

There are also reports from government partners and others of growing tensions and trauma on the ground, he added, with unconfirmed reports of people destroying bank teller machines and robbing relief supplies.

"Women and children are begging on the streets for donations, exposing themselves to abuse and exploitation," Edwards said.

==Kyodo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/131113/typhoon-death-toll-at-1833-aquino-says-earlier-estimat