Typhoon death toll in Philippines reaches 1,744


The Philippines government on Tuesday said that official death toll from the typhoon disaster raised to 1,744, with the final number expected to be much higher.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council also said in a statement Tuesday that 2,487 people had been hurt after Typhoon Haiyan struck the eastern Philippines four days ago.
But both figures are expected to climb drastically, with authorities estimating that the storm killed 10,000 or more across a vast region of the country, and displaced about 660,000 others.
On Thursday, thousands of survivors were swarming airports seeking flights to safer areas.
Separately, troops killed two armed insurgents who attacked an aid convoy en route to Tacloban on Tuesday, the military said, as soldiers were deployed to quell looting by survivors.
Bodies still littered the streets of the city, where the United Nations fears 10,000 people could have died when the category-five Haiyan struck on Friday.
Thousands of people whose homes were destroyed by one of the most powerful typhoons on record were spending yet another day in misery as troops established checkpoints to try to restore order and allow much-needed aid to percolate through.
“There were no casualties on the government side,” Lieutenant Colonel Joselito Kakilala said, adding that two members of the New People’s Army, the militant wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, were killed and another wounded in the clash in Matnog town, some 240 kilometres from Tacloban.
In the city itself, a curfew was in force as armoured vehicles and elite security forces patrolled streets where famished survivors had raided stores and ransacked other aid convoys.
Hundreds of soldiers and police were in evidence around the city, the capital of the provincial island of Leyte, which bore the brunt of Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record.
Chief Superintendent Carmelo Valmoria told AFP that 500 of his Special Action Forces troops were in place.
“When we arrived here, there was looting everywhere in the city. We have come to restore order and ensure the public safety,” Valmoria said.
“We have been conducting checkpoints around the city everywhere and every night to prevent those who have no business (here) from coming in.”
Valmoria said his troops had been confiscating knives and were urgently looking for guns that had been stolen from a firearms store.
Earlier Tuesday, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said four Simba armoured personnel carriers had been dispatched to Tacloban.
“We are circulating them in the city to show the people, especially those with bad intentions, that the authorities have returned,” Roxas told DZMM radio, adding that checkpoints were being used to prevent people mobbing relief trucks.
Super Typhoon Haiyan flattened buildings and knocked out electricity
and water supplies as tsunami-like waves and brutal winds tore across large swathes of the of the archipelago, leaving desperate survivors with virtually nothing.
Some have resorted to theft, with a charity saying that in one case a man with a machete tried to rob aid workers who were receiving a delivery of medicine.
“The presence of policemen, military and government forces will definitely improve things (but) it will not be overnight,” Roxas said, confirming reports that the Tacloban city government had imposed a curfew from 10pm (1400 GMT) to 6am.
“It is a tool that we are using to minimise the looting and
break-ins. We know some people cannot return home (during curfew) because their homes were washed away, but it is more effective against roving gangs who are looking for targets of opportunity,” he said.
It is not clear where newly homeless residents are meant to go during this period.
AFP journalists in Tacloban described the city as a “ghost town”, with bodies still lying on the streets four days after the typhoon hit and those shops that were not destroyed boarded up.
Piles of debris, including wrecked homes and toppled trees, meant little food and medicine got through to survivors in the early days.
“That is why they were desperate and hungry”, hotel owner Kenneth Uy said, describing the immediate aftermath of the storm as “a descent into chaos”.
Police have said that some local councillors led the looting of shops to provide food to constituents.
Roxas added that the public works department had cleared at least one lane of a highway entering the city, which would speed up entry of supplies.
Meanwhile, the United Nations began an appeal for almost a third of a billion dollars in aid to help people hit by the huge typhoon that raked the Philippines last week.
“We’ve just launched an action plan focusing on the areas of food, health, sanitation, shelter, debris removal and also protection of the most vulnerable with the government and I very much hope our donors will be generous,” humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told reporters in Manila.
“That plan is for $301 million dollars.”
“We have already seen an international and generous response given the horrific pictures that people have seen, particularly on their television screens,” she said.
“We know that people are being helped now but we also know that given the scale of the disaster that ought to be continued.