Philippine typhoon death toll rising by eight daily

Philippine typhoon death toll rising by eight daily
Rescue workers carry a body bag containing the body of a five-year-old boy, near houses destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan

MANILA - Relief teams are still finding eight to 10 dead bodies a day, more than a month after Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the central Philippines, a civil defence official said Sunday.

The number of casualties, which the government placed at 6,057 dead and 1,779 missing, is almost certain to rise, said Rey Gozon, civil defence director for the areas hardest-hit by the killer storm.

"For our region, we are still collecting bodies. We are getting an average eight to 10 additional dead bodies every day," he told AFP. He also expressed doubt that many of the missing would be found alive, saying so much time had passed since the storm struck with peak winds of 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour on November 8, flattening whole towns mainly in the central islands of Samar and Leyte.

The latest official count puts Haiyan nearly on par with a 1976 tsunami in the southern Philippines, generated by a major undersea earthquake in the Moro Gulf, which left between 5,000 and 8,000 people dead.

The Haiyan toll has also already surpassed Tropical Storm Thelma, which unleashed floods that killed more than 5,100 people in the central city of Ormoc in 1991, previously the country's deadliest storm.

The government said more than four million people lost their homes to either Haiyan's winds or tsunami-like storm surges, and some would continue to need food aid as well as shelter and jobs.

President Benigno Aquino has said the country will need nearly three billion dollars to repair the damage.

In a speech on Sunday, just after returning from a visit to Japan, Aquino said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told him that Tokyo would be increasing its typhoon reconstruction standby loan to the Philippines from $100 million to $500 million.

This is on top of a $66 million grant already provided by Japan for immediate typhoon relief, he stressed.

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