Manila (AFP) – The number of people confirmed killed when a super typhoon devastated the Philippines surpassed 5,200 on Friday, the government said, making it one of the country’s deadliest natural disasters.
The official death toll from the storm jumped by nearly 1,200 to 5,209, with another 1,611 people still missing, the spokesman for the government’s disaster management council, Reynaldo Balido, told AFP.
Super Typhoon Haiyan flattened dozens of towns across the central Philippines on November 8, bringing some of the strongest winds ever recorded and generating tsunami-like storm surges.
Balido said the death toll rose sharply on Friday, increasing from 4,015, after officials reported body counts from communities outside the worst-hit areas.
“If you notice, there was not much movement in the death toll for the past few days. This was because the reporting rules required a casualty report signed by the city mayor and his health officer,” he said. “Now, the reports are coming in from the entire typhoon area.”
The Philippines endures a seemingly never-ending pattern of deadly typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and other natural disasters.
It is located along a typhoon belt and the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where many of Earth’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
But Haiyan now stands as one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded in the country, and the worst typhoon.
The only other natural disaster to rival Haiyan was a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in 1976 that killed between 5,000 and 8,000 people on the southern island of Mindanao.
More than four million people were displaced, mainly on the poor, farming islands of Samar and Leyte.
The disaster has triggered a giant, international relief effort, with dozens of countries and relief organisations rushing to deliver food, water and health services to isolated communities.
The US military has performed the highest-profile role, while Japan has sent more than 1,000 troops in its biggest deployment since World War II.
China, which is embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute, has also sent a 300-bed hospital ship and relief supplies.