Aid efforts for typhoon victims defended

The Philippine government has defended its efforts to deliver assistance to victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Interior secretary Mar Roxas said: “In a situation like this, nothing is fast enough.”

He was speaking in the hard-hit city of Tacloban, most of which was destroyed by the storm one week ago.

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

The spokesman for the country’s civil defence agency, Major Reynaldo Balido, confirmed early yesterday that the figure had risen to 2,360, hours after the United Nations issued conflicting reports on how many people had died. 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, many of them homeless.

On the ground in Tacloban, authorities handed out a situation report saying 3,422 people had been killed on Samar and Leyte islands, the two most affected areas.

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 US 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.

“The need is massive, the need is immediate, and you can’t reach everyone,” Mr Roxas said.