Slog begins to rebuild Philippines' typhoon wastelands

Slog begins to rebuild Philippines' typhoon wastelands

MANILA - A frantic campaign to reach millions of hungry, injured and homeless people in the Philippines following one of the world's strongest storms is almost over. Now the grinding slog of rebuilding begins.

Experts say it will cost billions of dollars and take years to revive communities that were destroyed when Super Typhoon Haiyan swept in from the Pacific Ocean more than a fortnight ago, killing at least 5,200 people.

At 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour, Haiyan's winds were the most powerful ever recorded to make landfall. Tsunami-like storm surges that crashed hundreds of metres (yards) inland were even more devastating, wiping out entire towns.

Ensuring those who survived the storm did not perish in its immediate aftermath has been the top priority, with the main focus on the eastern islands of Leyte and Samar that were already among the poorest in the developing country.

The armed forces of more than a dozen countries joined a giant international relief effort, which continues to rush food, water and medicines and other emergency supplies to millions of people in isolated wastelands.

With aid flowing in more easily, the Philippine government, its international partners and the survivors themselves are starting to address the overwhelming task of rebuilding so many shattered communities.

"When you have these kind of problems that are so large, everybody is actually apprehensive," said Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, the former governor of Leyte, who has been appointed head of the government's reconstruction taskforce.

There is no official estimate for the recovery and rehabilitation cost, but Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan has suggested it could be as high as US$5.8 billion (S$7.25 billion).

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