Philippines typhoon death toll feared to hit 7,000

Philippines typhoon death toll feared to hit 7,000

TACLOBAN, Philippines - The number of people dead or missing after one of the world's strongest typhoons struck the Philippines climbed towards 7,000 on Saturday, as the United Nations warned much more needed to be done to help desperate survivors.

The government's confirmed death toll rose to 5,235, with another 1,613 people still missing more than two weeks after Super Typhoon Haiyan destroyed entire towns across a long stretch of islands in the central Philippines.

Haiyan now rivals a 1976 tsunami on the southern island of Mindanao as the deadliest recorded natural disaster to strike the Philippines, which endures a never-ending battle against typhoons, earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions.

The typhoon has triggered a giant, international aid effort, with dozens of countries and relief organisations rushing to deliver food, water and health services to more than four million people who lost their homes.

However UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, after visiting the disaster zones, warned the world was still not responding fast enough.

"Much more needs to be done. Food, clean water and shelter remain the top priorities," Amos said as a UN appeal for funds was raised from US$301 million (S$376.13 million) to US$348 million.

Amos said huge numbers of people were still exposed to bad weather in the nine provinces ravaged by the storm, as she warned particularly of the dangers for babies, children and mothers.

"I am very concerned that some 1.5 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition and close to 800,000 pregnant and nursing mothers need nutritional help," Amos told a news conference at UN headquarters.

Survivors plead for more help

In the coastal city of Tacloban, one of the worst-hit areas where five-metre (16-feet) waves surged deep inland and destroyed most buildings, survivors continued to complain about a lack of help.

"There is no steady supply of relief goods. It comes in trickles," said Maribel Senase, 41, as she held a baby and her husband sawed wood near their shattered home.

Senase, who has four children, said her family had received rice, dried fish and sardines, but they remained hungry.

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