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Seven days on, Philippines remains chaotic as death toll is disputed

The UN says at least 4,460 people died after the super typhoon but the government says the figure is 2,360.

Survivors ride a tricycle in Guiuan, Philippines on Friday.
Survivors ride a tricycle in Guiuan, Philippines on Friday.
Image: AP Photo/Dita Alangkara

THE UNITED NATIONS says the death toll from a super typhoon in the Philippines was at least 4,460, citing regional officials – but the government maintains that the figure is much lower.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today that the number of 4,460 was given from the regional taskforce of the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Wednesday.

But NDRMMC’s spokesman Reynaldo Balido insisted the official toll from the typhoon that ripped through the central Philippines on November 8 remained at 2,360.

“As of 13 November, the government reported that 4,460 people have died,” an OCHA statement said.

Asked for the source of the figures, Manila-based OCHA spokeswoman Orla Fagan said:” We are getting it from the operations centre of the regional taskforce set up by the NDRMMC.”

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(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

When asked about the UN’s statement: Balido replied: “Not true”. Then repeated the NDRMMC’s published figure of 2,360.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has said that he estimated the final death toll would be around 2,500.

Devastation

Several foreign relief operations are active on the ground in the Philippines after Super Typhoon Haiyan left thousands dead or homeless.

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(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

A week after one of the strongest storms ever hit a belt of central Philippine islands, ships and planes from Asia-Pacific nations and Europe are converging on the country bearing food, water, medical supplies, tents and other essentials.

The international aid push comes as the UN admitted it had been too slow to reach the victims of the storm, with survivors still begging for help.

With thousands of people already dead from the storm, the lives of many others were hanging by the thinnest of threads, even as the relief operations moved up a gear.

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(AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

The World Health Organisation says there are significant injuries that need to be dealt with — open wounds that can easily become infected in the sweltering tropical heat.

Experts warn that a reliable supply of clean drinking water is vital if survivors are to avoid diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration and death, especially in small children.

- © AFP, 2013

Watch: Filipino ambassador warned about typhoon devastation – last year >

Column: People in the Philippines are desperate, stunned and hopeless >

Read: US aircraft carrier steams in to Philippines as UN admits slow response >

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