Typhoon Toll Lower

1a philippinesDeaths likely to be well down on first estimate

By Alan Tristram

The BBC quotes the President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, as saying the death toll from the typhoon may be lower than first thought.

In an interview, he has said the number of 10,000 killed was too high and the figure was more likely to be ‘up to 2,500.’

The UN says more than 11 million people are believed to have been affected and some 673,000 displaced.

The relief operation is being stepped up, but many are still without aid.

BBC reporter at the scene

So where is the aid? That was the question on everyone’s lips in the district of Pawing, outside Tacloban.

Nearly every house has either been flattened or left without roofs or windows. People are living amid the sodden debris that was once their homes.

They are wet, hungry, and increasingly angry. I watched them making the long trek into Tacloban in search of food, and returning empty-handed. One long queue outside a food warehouse quickly broke down into a free-for-all, people grabbing whatever they could.

The local government was pretty much wiped out by the typhoon. That’s why the central government has taken over the running of Tacloban. But it is almost invisible. Without power or phone communications, people have no idea whether anything is being done for them.

The airport, while badly battered, is functioning. Planes come and go, several every hour. But they are not bringing much in, only taking people out. The Philippine army and police are very visible there, much less so in the rest of the city.

By day five of a disaster like this, you would expect to see some preparations for a scaled-up aid programme at the airport. There are still very few signs of that here.

Instead, there are still corpses, lying uncollected, at the end of the runway.

The earlier figure of 10,000 feared killed came from a police officer and local official and may have arisen from the “emotional trauma” of being at the centre of the disaster, Mr Aquino said.

He said 29 municipalities had yet to be contacted to establish the number of victims there.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has put the official death toll at 1,798, as of 22:00 local time (14:00 GMT) on Tuesday. The number of injured stands at 2,582 with 82 listed as missing.