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Yolanda toll breaches 6,000

MANILA, Philippines - The death toll from Super Typhoon Yolanda that struck the Visayas on Nov. 8 has breached 6,000, with nearly 1,800 others still missing, officials said yesterday.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said the number of people who died during the monster storm rose to 6,009 from last Friday’s count of 5,982.

Twenty-seven bodies, all unidentified, were among the latest to be recovered under debris in typhoon-stricken coastal areas, including the hardest hit city of Tacloban, according to Maj. Reynaldo Balido, NDRRMC spokesman.

NDRRMC’s figure of missing has remained at 1,779 since two weeks ago. The agency also reported that 27,022 individuals were injured during the storm.

Balido said 20 to 30 bodies were still being found every day. Identifying cadavers in the advanced stage of decomposition and matching them with the missing is a difficult process, he said, explaining why the number of missing remains unchanged.

The NDRRMC has been criticized for reportedly managing Yolanda’s death count after President Aquino himself declared the number of fatalities left by the monster storm could be between 2,000 and 2,500.

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Del Rosario, however, said the NDRRMC is just being thorough in its reporting to avoid double entry.

He added the NDRRMC only based its official tally on reports forwarded by local government units.

Tacloban’s death toll

Most of the fatalities came from Leyte.

In Tacloban City alone, where a joint task force is still conducting cadaver retrieval operations, the number of dead continues to increase.

As reflected in yesterday’s overall NDRRMC report, the fatalities in Tacloban have increased to 2,394 from last Friday’s 2,367.

The town of Tanauan came next with 1,252 unidentified bodies, and Palo with 1,089 fatalities.

Several members of volunteer groups working with local and foreign non-government organizations to assist storm survivors in Leyte and Samar said scores of bodies are still waiting to be retrieved under logs and uprooted coconut trees along the coastlines of the two island provinces.

The homes of more than 16 million people were either flattened or damaged by Yolanda, and officials said rebuilding would take at least three years.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said temporary bunkhouses and emergency shelters were being constructed and residents given cash in exchange for work, including repacking and hauling relief goods.

“We will provide materials to rebuild their houses; however, we stressed to the local governments that new shelters have to be built 40 meters away from the shoreline on high tide,” she said.

Soliman added they are currently building up a register of children in Eastern Visayas orphaned by the super typhoon.

“We are working with UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) on the tracking of orphaned children,” she said.

The tracking of orphans mainly involves the registration of the orphaned children, and determining who are their current guardians. – With AP, Rainier Allan Ronda



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