Monday, November 18, 2013

Philippines' Aquino 'tempted to despair' at typhoon toll

Eric Dela Cruz in Reuters: The United Nations expressed fear on Monday that some Philippine islands hit by a giant typhoon have not been reached 10 days after disaster struck and President Benigno Aquino said the scale of suffering "tempted him to despair". Authorities estimate more than 3,900 people were killed when Typhoon Haiyan, one of the largest ever recorded, made landfall in the central Philippines and the sea surged ashore.

Philippine authorities, the U.S. military and international agencies face a mounting humanitarian crisis, with the number of people displaced by the catastrophe estimated at four million, up from 900,000 late last week. Bernard Kerblat, UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative for the Philippines, said the agency was still facing coordination problems and bottlenecks.

"As of now, personally, I am not so sure that we've reached every single portion of the territory where people are in need of aid," he said. "And, in fact, I wouldn't be surprised that unfortunately that there might still be, as I'm speaking to you, day 11 of this disaster, there might be still very isolated islands."

Orla Fagan, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said it was a "logistical nightmare" to get relief supplies out at all. "The size, the quantity of people that have been affected by this, this is massive, between 10 and 12.9 million people have to be assisted to recover from this. This is absolutely huge. It's like taking the whole of Belgium and trying to assist."...

A destroyed house on the outskirts of Tacloban on Leyte island. This region was the worst affected by the typhoon, causing widespread damage and loss of life. Caritas is responding by distributing food, shelter, hygiene kits and cooking utensils. (Photo: Eoghan Rice - Trocaire / Caritas), Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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