Typhoon Haiyan death toll tops 4,000 in Philippines


MANILA (Kyodo) — The confirmed death toll from Typhoon Haiyan that struck the central Philippines on Nov. 8 rose to 4,011 on Nov. 20 as officials updated the scale of the tragedy caused by one of the biggest storms ever to hit land, the country’s disaster agency said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said at least 18,557 people were injured and 1,602 remain missing in the wake of the typhoon.

The agency said the storm also affected nearly 10 million people in 10,718 villages across 44 provinces.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said 13.2 million people were affected, including around 5 million children.

Of these, the U.N. agency said 4.4 million were displaced, with at least 85,652 families, 398,377 people, still in 1,526 evacuation centers.

Social worker Jane Casimiro told Kyodo News that more than 8,000 storm survivors from Leyte and Samar provinces have been airlifted to Manila and an undetermined number to Cebu City, which is closer to the hardest-hit areas.

Many of the survivors have been reunited with relatives in Manila and outlying provinces such as Cavite and Bulacan, she said, adding those who have no relatives are in temporary government-run shelters.

“Many of the survivors were traumatized by the massive devastation, and just wanted to get out,” she said. “But most of them plan to return when the situation normalizes.”

More and more survivors are queuing every day at Tacloban airport waiting for a plane ride out of the devastated area.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said at least 75 foreign aircraft and ships are involved in ongoing relief operations, including craft from the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington, 10 C-130 cargo planes and 19 transport aircraft brought in by the United States.

Zagala said South Korea has deployed 11 aircraft, Malaysia, six; Australia, five; Russia and Taiwan four each; Japan and Indonesia, three each; Canada, Qatar, Singapore and Thailand two each and India, Israel, Sweden and New Zealand one each.

He added Thailand has sent two ships and one ship has come from Britain.

China plans to hire a plane to bring in 10,000 blankets, 2,600 tents, medicine, medical equipment and more than 80 doctors and nurses, a statement by the Chinese Embassy in Manila said.

Some of the doctors have already arrived and the plane is to arrive Nov. 23.

“The Chinese government is sending The Peace Ark Hospital Ship, the first 10,000-ton-class hospital ship in the world, to the Philippines (to provide) medical aid,” the statement added.

“Electricity is improving but remains unavailable in some areas of Eastern Visayas region,” the report added.

Infrastructure damage is severe, it said, adding more than a million houses are damaged or destroyed.

An initial rapid assessment estimates that 80 percent to 90 percent of schools in Aklan, Capiz and Iloilo provinces in Western Visayas are damaged or destroyed, it also noted.

As to relief work, the agency said operations have “scaled up substantially, especially in Tacloban City now that access and logistics conditions have improved. Significant food and medical assistance has been provided in Tacloban and water services as well as limited telecommunications services restored.”

It noted, however, many islands and remote villages have yet to be reached, particularly in the Western Visayas.

By Nov. 19, UNOCHA said, $241 million had been contributed to the Haiyan response.

The plan hopes to get $301 million for life-saving assistance to typhoon-ravaged communities.

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