WASHINGTON - The death toll from the massive typhoon that hit the Philippines is closer to 2,000 or 2,500, not the previously reported figure of 10,000, President Benigno Aquino told CNN on Tuesday.
"Ten thousand, I think, is too much," Mr Aquino said in an interview posted on CNN's website. He said local officials who provided that estimate may have been too close to the destruction to give an accurate figure. "There was emotional drama involved with that particular estimate," he said.
Mr Aquino told CNN the government is still gathering information from various storm-struck areas.
"We're hoping to be able to contact something like 29 municipalities left wherein we still have to establish their numbers, especially for the missing, but so far 2,000, about 2,500, is the number we are working on as far as deaths are concerned," he said.
Mr Aquino's comments came as international aid groups, as well as the United States and Britain, scramble to accelerate relief efforts after Friday's Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the fiercest on record.
Philippine officials have been overwhelmed by the destruction from the storm, which hit the central part of the string of islands and flattened Tacloban, the coastal capital of Leyte province. Officials there initially said they feared 10,000 people had died.