Friday, November 15, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines death toll up as aid arrives

BBC: The number of people in the Philippines confirmed dead from Typhoon Haiyan now stands at 3,631, officials say. UN and local agencies have issued conflicting tolls, and the final figure is likely to rise still higher.

One week after the storm, food and supplies are now beginning to reach survivors, but aid agencies say the logistics of distribution are enormous. The Philippine government has defended its response to the disaster, one of the strongest storms ever on land. The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes: "There has been a dramatic change today"

In its latest update, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 3,631 people were confirmed dead as of 20:00 local time (12:00 GMT). The number of injured stood at 12,487, while 1,187 people are officially listed as missing. In all, the council said more than nine million people had been affected, including 1,871,321 who had been displaced.

Philippine Interior Secretary Mar Roxas knows his government has been criticised over the speed of its response to Typhoon Haiyan. I met him after he chaired a meeting of local authorities and relief groups in Tacloban. He told me the aid effort had been delayed because "the basic infrastructure was swept away".

He explained that people who were supposed to be first responders were also victims; that barely a quarter of the city's police force had been showing up to work, because they too were dealing with great personal loss; and that - even though main roads have now been cleared - the hardware to distribute aid was lacking.

He said he only had 16 trucks that he could deploy throughout the whole of the province. Of those, eight were for aid delivery, four were for clean-up and four were for "cadaver collection" - the grim task of collecting the dead....

Loop of doppler radar imagery showing Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan's second Philippine landfall, on the island of Leyte. Tacloban City was struck by the northern eyewall, the most powerful part of the storm. The PAGASA Cebu City radar site began to transmit intermittently as the typhoon neared, eventually failing altogether (last frame).  Image from PAGASA

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