Phl gov’t, UN issue conflicting casualty reports

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Dead bodies in bags wait to be picked up for burial in the streets of Tacloban. (Photo: Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)

MANILA, Nov. 15, 2013— The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in an update released at 11:04 pm Thursday pegged the number of casualties to have reached around 4,460.  

An estimate that ran counter to the official report released by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center, which released an update at 6:00 am today reporting 2,360 individuals died while 3,853 were injured and that 77 others were still considered missing. 

A check with NDRRMC staff said the death toll report came from the government’s Department of Health.  

He said he is not in a position to dispute the United Nations’ OCHA report but explained to rely on reports from Philippine government agencies.  

As of press time, rescue workers are still busy collecting decomposing bodies under the debris that littered the city of Tacloban, seven days after ‘Yolanda’ flattened the area and several towns in Eastern and Western Visayas. 

Seeing the massive devastation, days after Yolanda flattened the city, Police Chief Supt. Elmer Soria, PNP Region VIII director was quoted by media to have said he feared deaths in his area would reach 10,000 as “Yolanda” swept almost everything to the ground. 

The statement eventually cost Soria his post.  

President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III in an earlier interview, called on everyone not to harp on the possibility as he appealed to media “not to add to the anxiety of the people.”  

He said everyone must wait for official reports from the government. 

But while NDRRMC reported 1,962,898 families or 9,073,804 individuals were affected from 9,303 villages in 44 provinces, 536 municipalities and 55 cities in nine of the country’s 17 regions, OCHA reported an increase in affected persons to 11.8 million, citing Department of Social Welfare and Development estimates. 

In terms of number of persons displaced by the typhoon, NDRRMC reported 1,487,040 persons, while OCHA disclosed there were 921,200 persons.  

NDRRMC’s report of 253,049 homes damaged by the typhoon is also higher than that of OCHA which only pegged number of homes totally and partially damaged at around 243,600. 

Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has expressed fears, fuel in Tacloban City to run out in few days. 

Though three logistical hubs have been operational in Guiuan, Eastern Samar and in Leyte’s cities of Tacloban and Ormoc, shortage of trucks and roads blocked by debris hampered relief operations. 

The Haiyan Action Plan has 19% of its requirements amounting to US $58 million from a targeted amount of US $ 301 million.  (Melo M. Acuna)

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