TACLOBAN, Philippines: The number of people dead or missing after one of the world’s strongest typhoons struck the Philippines climbed towards 7,000 on Saturday, as the United Nations warned much more needed to be done to help desperate survivors.
The government’s confirmed death toll rose to 5,235, with another 1,613 people still missing more than two weeks after Super Typhoon Haiyan destroyed entire towns across a long stretch of islands in the central Philippines.
Haiyan now rivals a 1976 tsunami on the southern island of Mindanao as the deadliest recorded natural disaster to strike the Philippines, which endures a never-ending battle against typhoons, earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions.
The typhoon has triggered a giant, international relief effort, with dozens of countries and relief organisations rushing to deliver food, water and health services to more than four million people who lost their homes.
However UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, after visiting the disaster zones, warned the world was still not responding fast enough to the disaster.
“Much more needs to be done. Food, clean water and shelter remain the top priorities,” Amos said as a UN appeal for funds was raised from $301 million to $348 million.
Amos said huge numbers of people were still exposed to bad weather in the nine provinces ravaged by the storm, as she warned particularly of the dangers for babies, children and mothers.
“I am very concerned that some 1.5 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition and close to 800,000 pregnant and nursing mothers need nutritional help,” Amos told a news conference at UN headquarters.
The World Bank on Friday added $480 million in emergency aid to the
Philippines, taking its support to nearly $1 billion. The Asian Development
Bank has also offered $500 million concessionary loans.
The US military has performed the highest-profile role in the relief effort, sending an aircraft carrier that arrived six days after the disasterthat finally allowed relief supplies to start reaching isolated communities.
Japan also sent more than 1,000 troops aboard three vessels that arrived on Thursday night, in what is the biggest overseas deployment of the country’s military since its defeat in World War II nearly 70 years ago.
China, which is embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute with the Philippines, dispatched a 300-bed hospital ship, while Australia, Britain and Indonesia are among many other nations to have also sent military support.