The Herald Bulletin

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November 15, 2013

Philippine government defends typhoon response

TACLOBAN, Philippines — The Philippine government on Friday defended its efforts to deliver assistance to victims of Typhoon Haiyan, many of whom have received little or no assistance since the monster storm struck one week ago.

"In a situation like this, nothing is fast enough," Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said in Tacloban, most of which was destroyed by the storm one week ago. "The need is massive, the need is immediate, and you can't reach everyone."

Government officials have given different death tolls, both actual and estimated, as a result of the storm.

Given the scale of the disaster, and infrastructure and communications problems, this is not unusual.

The spokesman for the country's civil defense agency, Maj. Reynaldo Balido, confirmed early Friday that the figure had risen to 2,360, hours after the United Nations issued conflicting reports on how many people had died. On the ground in Tacloban, authorities handed out a situation report stating that 3,422 people had been killed on Samar and Leyte islands, the two most affected areas.

Some officials estimate that the final toll, when the missing are declared dead and remote regions reached, will be more than 10,000.

At least 600,000 people have been displaced.

Authorities are struggling to meet their immediate needs. This often occurs in the aftermath of major disasters, especially in already poor countries where local and national governments lack capacity. It often leads to criticism in some quarters.

The pace of the aid effort has picked up over the last 24 hours, according to reporters who have been in the region for several days. Foreign governments are dispatching food, water, medical supplies and trained staff to the region. Trucks and generators are also arriving.

A U.S. aircraft carrier is moored off the coast, preparing for a major relief mission. The fleet of helicopters on board is expected to drop food and water to the worst affected areas.

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