Typhoon Haiyan: Toll climbs above 5 000

2013-11-22 15:18
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Manila - The death toll from one of the strongest typhoons on record has risen above 5 000 and is likely to climb further, although recovery efforts are beginning to take hold, Philippine officials said on Friday.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said 4 919 people were killed on Leyte, Samar and nearby islands in the Eastern Visayas region. Civil defence chief Eduardo del Rosario said 290 others died in other parts of the central and southern Philippines.

The regions were battered two weeks ago by fierce winds and tsunami-like storm surges from Typhoon Haiyan, locally called Yolanda.

Del Rosario said there were 1 611 people still missing.

"That is the sad record of Yolanda's passage through our country," Roxas said. But he added that "the worst is over".

Stabilised

He likened the region to a patient that has been moved out of the emergency room into an intensive care unit.

"We have overcome the most difficult part," he said. "In the first week we can say we were in the emergency room this second week we are now in the ICU, still critical but stabilised."

He said the hard-hit Leyte provincial capital of Tacloban reported 1 725 dead. "I believe this number in Tacloban city is not yet final," he said.

Most of the bodies have been buried in mass graves, many of them unidentified, he said.

"It is possible that some of the missing is among the unidentified," he said.

Journalists in Tacloban say the stench of death from piles of debris, upturned vehicles and remnants of what once were homes indicates that bodies remain trapped underneath.

No more looting

Roxas said the situation was stabilising, with major roads on Samar and Leyte cleared of debris and some banks, grocery stores and gas stations now open.

More troops and police have been brought to the region from other parts of the country to beef up law and order.

The airport in Tacloban, the regional hub, and its seaport are operating.

"There is no more looting," he said. "We are now heading to recovery and reconstruction."

Even though authorities evacuated about 800 000 people ahead of the typhoon, the death toll was high because many evacuation centres, schools, churches and government buildings could not withstand the winds and water. Officials said people who sought shelter in the buildings drowned or were swept away.



Read more on:    philippines  |  typhoon haiyan  |  natural disasters

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