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Philippine city puts typhoon toll at 4,000

Tacloban's City Hall says death toll has reached 4,000 as survivors grow angry over pace of aid distribution.

Last updated: 15 Nov 2013 03:00
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The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan in the devastated Philippine coastal city of Tacloban has reached 4,000, a notice board at City Hall said, nearly double the nationwide toll provided by the government in Manila.

The City Hall toll posted on Friday was the first public acknowledgement that the number of fatalities had far exceeded an estimate provided this week by President Benigno Aquino, who predicted the loss of life from the entire disaster would be closer to 2,000 or 2,500.

Official confirmed deaths nationwide stood at 2,357 on Thursday from the Nov 8 typhoon, one of the strongest ever
recorded.

Aquino has faced mounting pressure to speed up the distribution of supplies and stoked debate over the extent of casualties from Typhoon Haiyan.

Survivors have grown increasingly desperate and angry over the pace of aid distribution, which has been hindered by paralysed local governments, widespread looting, a lack of fuel and debris-choked roads.

The dead are still being buried one week after the storm and a tsunami-like wall of seawater slammed into coastal areas. Many corpses remain uncovered on roadsides or under splintered homes in the worst-hit city of Tacloban.

The nuclear-powered USS George Washington aircraft carrier and accompanying ships arrived off eastern Samar province on Thursday evening, carrying 5,000 crew and more than 80 aircraft.

Foreign aid officials have called the disaster unprecedented for the Philippines.

"There is utter devastation. People are desperate for food, water, shelter, supplies and information about their loved ones," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters on Thursday during a visit to Latvia.

"We are doing everything possible to rush assistance to those who need it. Now is the time for the international community to stand with the people of the Philippines."

UN let down

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said distribution is still a challenge and admitted the UN had let people down because they had not been able to get aid to people more quickly.

She told Al Jazeera that the roads in the country had proved impassable because of debris over the past few days.

“We're also challenged when the supplies get there, because there is no fuel, there are very few trucks on the ground. So we need to find a way to get those goods into Tacloban," she said.

Many petrol station owners whose businesses were spared have refused to reopen, leaving little fuel for trucks needed to move supplies and medical teams around the devastated areas nearly a week after the typhoon struck.

"There are still bodies on the road," said Alfred Romualdez, mayor of Tacloban. "It's scary. There is a request from a community to come and collect bodies, they say it's five or 10. When we get there it's 40."

"The choice is to use the same truck either to distribute food or collect bodies," he added, outlining a grim choice.

 

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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