MANILA - The death toll from Super Typhoon Haiyan has risen above 5,200, making it one of the Philippines' deadliest ever natural disasters, the government said on Friday, two weeks after the devastating storm struck.
The number of people confirmed killed jumped by nearly 1,200 to 5,209, with another 1,611 people still unaccounted for, the spokesman for the disaster management council, Reynaldo Balido, told AFP.
The typhoon flattened dozens of towns across the central Philippines on November 8, bringing some of the strongest winds ever recorded and generating tsunami-like storm surges.
Balido said the death toll rose sharply on Friday, increasing from 4,015, after officials reported body counts from communities outside the worst-hit areas.
"If you notice, there was not much movement in the death toll for the past few days. This was because the reporting rules required a casualty report signed by the city mayor and his health officer," he said.
"Now, the reports are coming in from the entire typhoon area."
The Philippines endures a seemingly never-ending pattern of deadly typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and other natural disasters but Haiyan now stands as one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded in the country, and the worst typhoon.
The only other natural disaster to rival Haiyan was a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in 1976 that killed between 5,000 and 8,000 people on the southern island of Mindanao.
The typhoon has triggered a huge international relief effort but the UN warned 1.5 million children are at risk of malnutrition, calling for greater efforts to provide food and water.
A UN appeal to cope with the aftermath of Haiyan has been increased from $301 million (S$376 million) to $348 million as the extent of the storm disaster becomes clear and UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said the death toll would climb higher.
'1.5 million children face malnutrition'
"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 after a trip to the Philippines.
Amos said large numbers of people are still exposed to bad weather in the nine provinces ravaged by the storm. An estimated four million people have been left homeless.
The World Bank on Friday added $480 million in emergency aid to the Philippines, taking its support to nearly $1 billion.
The US military has performed the highest-profile role in the relief effort, Japan has sent more than 1,000 troops and China, which is embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute with the Philippines, has also dispatched a 300-bed hospital ship and supplies.
The Japanese troops were aboard three vessels that arrived at the central Philippine port of Cebu on Thursday night, a Japanese embassy official said, in what is the biggest overseas deployment of the country's military since its defeat in World War II.
Japan's contribution to the humanitarian effort comes as a newly confident Tokyo looks to make its mark again on the world order, after decades in which the idea of its troops on foreign soil was complete anathema.
In a twist of historic irony, the Japanese troops are returning to areas of the Philippines that saw Japan lose one of history's biggest naval battles to the US-led Allies.
Eulalia Macaya, 74, who survived World War II, said she remembered being terrified by Japanese troops as a little girl.
"We were hiding in holes dug under the floor of our homes," she recalled. But Macaya, who was waiting for treatment at a temporary field clinic set up by the Japanese government in Tacloban, the typhoon-ruined capital of Leyte, said she was pleased the former occupier was back.
Tente Quintero, 72, a former vice mayor of Tacloban, said that at a time of dispute with an increasingly emboldened China over the ownership of South China Sea islands, Filipinos now saw the Japanese as friends and allies.