TACLOBAN, Philippines - Philippine President Benigno Aquino was under growing pressure on Thursday to speed up the distribution of food, water and medicine to desperate survivors of a powerful typhoon and to revive paralysed local governments.
While international relief efforts have picked up, many petrol station owners whose businesses were spared have refused to reopen, leaving little fuel for trucks needed to move supplies and medical teams around the devastated areas nearly a week after Typhoon Haiyan struck.
"There are still bodies on the road," said Alfred Romualdez, mayor of Tacloban, a city of 220,000 people reduced to rubble in worst-hit Leyte province. "It's scary. There is a request from a community to come and collect bodies. They say it's five or 10. When we get there, it's 40."
The scarcity of trucks presents grim options. "The choice is to use the same truck either to distribute food or collect bodies," he added.
Outside Taclaban, officials began burying about 300 bodies in a mass grave on Thursday. A larger grave will be dug for 1,000, city administrator Tecson John Lim told Reuters.
The city government remains decimated, with just 70 workers compared to 2,500 normally, he added. Many were killed, injured, lost family or were simply too overcome with grief to work.
The USS George Washington aircraft carrier was due to arrive in the Philippines on Thursday evening, with 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft. Japan was also planning to send up to 1,000 troops as well as naval vessels and aircraft, in what could be Tokyo's biggest postwar military deployment.