UPDATE: Philippine typhoon death toll rises above 5,000

UPDATE: Philippine officials say the death toll from one of the strongest typhoons on record has risen above 5,000 and is likely to climb further.

Courtesy: NBC News

UPDATED Friday, November 22, 2013 --- 5:35 a.m.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Philippine officials say the death toll from one of the strongest typhoons on record has risen above 5,000 and is likely to climb further.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said Friday that 4,919 people were killed in the Eastern Visayas region. Civil defense 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.

Roxas said the situation was stabilizing, with major roads on Samar and Leyte islands cleared of debris, and some banks, stores and gasoline stations resuming business.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, November 15, 2013 --- 5:53 a.m.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- A top Philippine civil defense official says the death toll from last week's Typhoon Haiyan has risen to 3,621.

That's a jump of more than 1,200 from the previous toll of 2,360 that was announced earlier Friday by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Its executive director, Eduardo del Rosario, told reporters that the "latest death toll" from all the provinces hit by the typhoon is 3,621. He did not give details. An official at the agency later said its website will be updated with the latest toll later Friday.

The new figure has surpassed the estimated 2,500 deaths that President Benigno Aquino III had predicted earlier this week.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, November 13, 2013 --- 5:40 a.m.

TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) -- Relief operations in the typhoon-devastated central Philippines are picking up pace Wednesday.

Only minimal amounts of water, food and medical supplies are making it to the hardest-hit areas still, but aviation authorities have reopened two more airports in the region, allowing for more aid flights.

International agencies and militaries also are speeding up operations to get staff, supplies and equipment in place for what will be a major humanitarian mission.

A doctor at a makeshift clinic at the damaged airport in Tacloban says supplies of antibiotics and anesthetics arrived Tuesday for the first time. Before that he says, "patients had to endure the pain."

Damaged infrastructure and bad communications links are making the death toll difficult to estimate. The national disaster agency puts it at 1,883. But President Benigno Aquino III tells CNN that the final toll could be closer to 2,500, rather than the 10,000 some officials had feared.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, November 11, 2013 --- 5:44 a.m.

TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) -- A U.S. Marine general says he saw bodies everywhere during a helicopter flight over the region struck by powerful Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines four days ago.

Speaking after a two-hour flight Monday with Filipino forces, U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy said every building and house he saw was destroyed or severely damaged.

"We saw bodies everywhere," he said. Some were floating in the water, others in a schoolyard.

He said trees were uprooted for miles around, roads were impassable and power lines were down.

"I don't know how else you can describe total devastation," Kennedy said at the airport in the badly hit Philippine city of Tacloban.

Two U.S. Marine C-130 cargo planes were parked nearby, their engines running, unloading food and water from the capital, Manila.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
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Posted Friday, November 8, 2013 --- 2:01 a.m.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- One of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded slammed into the Philippines on Friday, setting off landslides, knocking out power in one entire province and cutting communications in the country's central region of island provinces. Two people had died.

Telephone lines appeared down as it was difficult to get through to the landfall site 650 kilometers (405 miles) southeast of Manila where Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the southern tip of Samar island before barreling on to Leyte Island.

A villager was electrocuted in southern Surigao del Sur province and another was hit by tree felled by strong winds in central Cebu province, officials said.

Television images from Tacloban city on Leyte Island showed a street under knee-deep floodwater carrying debris that had been blown down by the fierce winds. Tin roofing sheets ripped from buildings were flying above the street.

Visibility was so poor that only the silhouette of a local reporter could be seen through the driving rain.

Weather officials said that Haiyan had sustained winds at 235 kilometers (147 miles) per hour, with gusts of 275 kph (170 mph) when it made landfall.

More than 125,000 people had been evacuated from towns and villages in the typhoon's path, which was to cut across the central Philippines, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said. Among them were thousands of residents of Bohol who had been camped in tents and other makeshift shelters after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the island last month.

Southern Leyte Gov. Roger Mercado said 31,000 people were evacuated in his landslide-prone mountainous province before the super typhoon struck, knocking out power, setting off small landslides that blocked roads in rural areas, uprooting trees and ripping roofs off houses around his residence.

The dense clouds and heavy rains made the day seem almost as dark as night, he said.

"When you're faced with such a scenario, you can only pray, and pray and pray," Mercado told The Associated Press by telephone, adding that his town mayors have not called in to report any major damage.

"I hope that means they were spared and not the other way around," he said. "My worst fear is there will be many massive loss of lives and property."

The typhoon -- the 24th serious storm to hit the Philippines this year -- is forecast to barrel through the Philippines' central region Friday and Saturday before blowing toward the South China Sea over the weekend, heading toward Vietnam.

Jeff Masters, a former hurricane meteorologist who is meteorology director at the private firm Weather Underground, said the storm had been poised to be the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded at landfall. He warned of "catastrophic damage."

But he said the Philippines might get a small break because the storm is so fast moving that flooding from heavy rains -- usually the cause of most deaths from typhoons in the Philippines -- may not be as bad.

Weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said the typhoon was not losing much of its strength because there is no large land mass to slow it down since the region is comprised of islands with no tall mountains.

Officials in Cebu province have shut down electric service to the northern part of the province to avoid electrocutions in case power pylons are toppled, said assistant regional civil defense chief Flor Gaviola.

President Benigno Aquino III assured the public of war-like preparations, with three C-130 air force cargo planes and 32 military helicopters and planes on standby, along with 20 navy ships.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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