Philippines storm survivors ‘desperate for aid’
Eight die after looters storm government-owned rice warehouse seeking food
Her aunt in Manila, 580km to the north, was travelling by road and ferry to bring supplies. “We are hoping she won’t get hijacked,” she said.
The government has been overwhelmed by the force of the typhoon, which decimated large swathes of Leyte province where local officials have said they feared 10,000 people died, many drowning in a tsunami-like surge of seawater.
Mr Aquino, who has been on the defensive over his handling of the disaster, said the government was still gathering information from various storm-struck areas and the death toll may rise.
Audio: Goal's James Kelly speaks from Cebu
“Ten thousand, I think, is too much,” Mr Aquino told CNN in an interview. “There was emotional drama involved with that particular estimate.”
“We’re hoping to be able to contact something like 29 municipalities left wherein we still have to establish their numbers, especially for the missing, but so far 2,000, about 2,500, is the number we are working on as far as deaths are concerned,” he said. Officials said Aquino referred to estimated deaths.
Official confirmed deaths stood at 2,275 today, with only 84 missing, a figure aid workers consider widely off the mark.
“At this time it is definitely not 10,000,” Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras told a news conference.
“There has been a body count based on the dead lying in the streets but we can’t be accurate because there is still, some people say, there are people buried in certain areas.” Some aid workers cast doubt over Aquino’s estimate.
“Probably it will be higher because numbers are just coming in. Many of the areas we cannot access,” Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, told Reuters. The preliminary number of missing, according to the Red Cross, is 22,000. Pang cautioned that figure could include people who have since been located. Google, which has set up websites to help people share and look for information about missing persons during catastrophes, currently lists some 65,500 people as missing from the typhoon.
The Person Finder website allows anyone to list a person missing and to search the database for names. But Google staff warned against reading too much into the data, pointing out that a similar website set up after the Japanese tsunami in 2011 listed more than 600,000 names, far higher than the final death toll of nearly 20,000.