Skip to main content

Typhoon Haiyan death toll closer to 2,500, Philippine president says

By CNN Staff
November 12, 2013 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "We all live on one planet," says Aquino, calling for the world to act on climate change
  • The typhoon overwhelmed two or three local governments, slowing the initial response
  • In Tacloban, only 20 of 290 police were available to respond when disaster struck
  • The previous estimate came from officials who were perhaps "too close" to events

(CNN) -- A well-publicized estimate that Typhoon Haiyan killed 10,000 people in the Philippines is "too much," and the death toll likely is closer to 2,000 or 2,500, President Benigno Aquino III told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Read: Typhoon Haiyan leaves 1,774 dead, aid efforts mobilize

"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.

The monster storm left behind a catastrophic scene after it made landfall on six Philippine islands last Friday, leaving many without access to food and medical care. At least 800,000 people have been displaced, the United Nations said Tuesday.

Lieutenant Colonel Marciano Guevara from the Philippine Air Force spent half a day in disaster-struck Tacloban surveying the area and coordinating relief work on Monday. These are some of his photos and impressions of the typhoon aftermath as told to CNN's Diego Laje. Lieutenant Colonel Marciano Guevara from the Philippine Air Force spent half a day in disaster-struck Tacloban surveying the area and coordinating relief work on Monday. These are some of his photos and impressions of the typhoon aftermath as told to CNN's Diego Laje.
Through the eyes of a rescue worker
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
>
>>
Through the eyes of a rescue worker Through the eyes of a rescue worker
A man reconstructs his house in the bay of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines, on Wednesday, November 27, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard on November 8, leaving a wide swath of destruction, including more than 5,000 deaths. A man reconstructs his house in the bay of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines, on Wednesday, November 27, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard on November 8, leaving a wide swath of destruction, including more than 5,000 deaths.
Photos: Typhoon Haiyan
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Typhoon Haiyan Photos: Typhoon Haiyan
Haiyan's track  Haiyan's track
Haiyan's trackHaiyan's track
Philippine family's survival story

By Tuesday, Philippines officials said 1,774 bodies had been counted and 2,487 people were injured.

The previous estimate of 10,000 killed, Aquino said, came from local officials who perhaps were "too close" to the center of destruction to make an accurate guess.

Read: Typhoon Haiyan crushed town 'like giant hand from the sky'

The typhoon simply overwhelmed the ability of two or three local governments to do their jobs, which include taking care of the initial response, the President said. For example, in Tacloban, only 20 of 290 police were available when disaster struck; many were tending to their own families, he said.

The national government "had to replace a lot of the personnel with personnel from other regions to take care of government's vital functions," Aquino said.

The typhoon wreaked havoc on power lines and communications facilities, which meant government officials faced immense difficulties in identifying needs and dispatching relief supplies and equipment. But the situation has improved, he said. All of the national roads are reopened and most of the airports are nearly back to normal operating levels, he said.

Still, he added, the sheer number of people affected is daunting.

Aquino said the toll might have been higher had it not been for preemptive evacuations, the prepositioning of supplies and cooperation from businesses. "But, of course, nobody imagined the magnitude that this super typhoon brought on us," he said.

Aquino expressed gratitude for the aid that has been pouring in from around the world. "There are, at last count, over 22 countries have either pledged to us, actually given us aid," he said.

Though civil order has broken down in some areas, some 2,000 personnel have been deployed to restore it, he said.

"People were -- became -- desperate, and that's why we are trying to fast-track the situation where national government takes over these local government functions so that order is restored."

Responding to a question about the vulnerability of his country to climate change, Aquino said he had no doubt that climate change is occurring and the world must respond to it. "There should be no debate that this is happening," he said, citing heavy rains during what used to be dry months, periods of drought during what used to be wet months and the havoc that that has inflicted on farmers.

"We all live on one planet," the President said. "Either we come up with a solution that everybody adheres to and cooperates with, or let us be prepared to meet disasters."

Efforts are under way to better prepare the archipelago nation to endure future such assaults, such as planting mangroves in tidal areas as a defense against tsunamis, and investing in meteorology to better predict -- and prepare for -- such events.

After the immediate needs of the populace are met, the nation's focus will turn to rebuilding the tens of thousands of homes affected -- this time to standards better able to withstand typhoons, Aquino said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Typhoon Haiyan
November 20, 2013 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
A dozen body bags line the street in Tacloban -- one of the towns hardest hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan -- as locals walk through the destruction of what used to be their homes.
November 19, 2013 -- Updated 2007 GMT (0407 HKT)
Cadaver dog teams are on the ground in the Philippines, helping to locate victims still buried in the rubble.
November 19, 2013 -- Updated 1002 GMT (1802 HKT)
CNN's Airmie Jarin-Bennett, an expat Filipino, returned to her native land after Typhoon Haiyan. Nothing prepared her for what she found there.
November 19, 2013 -- Updated 0427 GMT (1227 HKT)
As thousands of traumatized typhoon survivors struggled to escape the stricken city of Tacloban, Gina Ladrera was desperate to get back in.
November 18, 2013 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Karl Penhaul reports from the middle of the Tacloban devastation using a drone camera to get a bird's eye view.
November 18, 2013 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
The USS George Washington is expected to leave the Philippines once two amphibious ships arrive there Wednesday, officials say.
November 18, 2013 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
Australian Jason Day was out on the course at Royal Melbourne on Monday.
The golf community is rallying around Jason Day after it emerged the Australian lost eight members of his family during the devastation wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
November 18, 2013 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
The aftermath of Haiyan and the need for aid has celebrities working phones and taking donations. Max Foster reports.
November 19, 2013 -- Updated 0426 GMT (1226 HKT)
As an expression of hard power, they don't come bigger or more fearsome than the USS George Washington.
November 18, 2013 -- Updated 0821 GMT (1621 HKT)
The tiny, baby girl barely moves as she lies wrapped in a bundle of yellow plastic and green cloth on a peeling brown mattress made for a child far larger than she.
November 19, 2013 -- Updated 0204 GMT (1004 HKT)
The USS George Washington is on the front lines of the aid mission in the Philippines. CNN's Anna Coren reports.
November 18, 2013 -- Updated 0612 GMT (1412 HKT)
The day after the typhoon, Father Edwin Bacaltos stepped out of the compound of the Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in central Tacloban and began his work.
November 15, 2013 -- Updated 0533 GMT (1333 HKT)
Explore stories from typhoon survivors, relief workers, and officials from eight regions across the Philippines.
November 17, 2013 -- Updated 2347 GMT (0747 HKT)
A distraught mother who lost her young sons in the tidal surge of Super Typhoon Haiyan feels her life is over.
November 17, 2013 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
This video shows how strong the storm surge was during Super Typhoon Haiyan.
November 17, 2013 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
CNN's Anna Coren reports from Tacloban's airport as Typhoon Haiyan survivors wait to evacuate.
November 15, 2013 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
The Philippine govt. is defending its efforts against accusations people there are not getting desperately needed help.
November 22, 2013 -- Updated 1921 GMT (0321 HKT)
How charities and nongovernmental organizations from around the world are responding to the disaster, and how you can help them make a difference.
November 27, 2013 -- Updated 2354 GMT (0754 HKT)
The storm affected 4.3 million people in 36 provinces and displaced more than 340,000.
November 27, 2013 -- Updated 2333 GMT (0733 HKT)
Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, left thousands of victims in its wake.
November 27, 2013 -- Updated 2324 GMT (0724 HKT)
Troops and aid organizations help Filipinos struggling to survive the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history.
November 11, 2013 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
CNN reporters capture sounds and images of Typhoon Haiyan's devastating trek through Tacloban, Philippines.
November 11, 2013 -- Updated 1240 GMT (2040 HKT)
'I was gob-smacked as we made our final approach into the ruins of the airport in Tacloban,' says CNN's Ivan Watson.
December 7, 2013 -- Updated 1458 GMT (2258 HKT)
Flattened forests and flooded villages in the Philippines seen from the air.
ADVERTISEMENT