A year on, typhoon-devastated Philippine city fails to rebuild homes

Locals walk past residential areas devastated by super Typhoon Haiyan, in Tacloban city, central Philippines, in this November 11, 2013 file picture

MANILA - The mayor of the central Philippine city worst hit by a super typhoon a year ago said on Tuesday fewer than 100 of 14,500 promised permanent homes had been built and that thousands were still living in danger zones.

Typhoon Haiyan wiped out or damaged practically everything in its path as it swept ashore on Nov. 8, 2013, with seven-metre storm surges destroying around 90 per cent of the city of Tacloban in Leyte province.

Haiyan killed or left missing close to 8,000 people and displaced as many as four million.

"Building more permanent homes is very slow and takes time. Hopefully, by January next year, the pace will pick up," Mayor Alfred Romualdez, nephew of the Philippines' former first lady, Imelda Marcos, told reporters.

He blamed the lack of suitable land where houses which could withstand 250-kph (155-mph) winds could be built but said he hoped the 14,500 homes would be completed by 2017.

"There are still 3,000 people in danger zones, many in tents and we want them all transferred to transitional shelters by next month," Romualdez said.

"...One year after typhoon Haiyan, we are back but only about 50 per cent," he said, saying the recovery effort was slowed down by bureaucracy, shortage of manpower and resources and other delays.

Construction materials, like galvanized iron sheets, were also scarce, he said, forcing people to use fallen coconut trees to build temporary shelters.

Romualdez did not mention graft as a factor in one of Asia's most corrupt countries.

The Philippines came in at 94 out of 175 countries in Transparency International's corruption perceptions index last year.

The Aquino government has a six-year 170 billion pesos (US$3.80 billion) master plan to rebuild devastated areas, building about 200,000 homes and providing more sustainable jobs for 2.6 million people who living below the poverty line.