New York (AFP) – The United Nations said Monday more than 10,000 people are feared killed by the Philippines super typhoon, and the world should expect “the worst” for the final toll.
A top UN humanitarian official, John Ging, said 660,000 people had fled their homes because of the storm and that the United Nations will appeal for significant international aid for victims on Tuesday.
“Many places are strewn with dead bodies,” Ging, operations director for the UN Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told a news conference at UN headquarters.
“It is estimated now over 10,000 people perished,” Ging said.
When asked about the final toll, he added: “We are certainly expecting the worst. As we get more and more access we find the tragedy of more and more people killed in this typhoon.”
Ging told of the battle to get to the devastated city of Tacloban and other areas badly hit by Friday’s super-typhoon.
He said it was taking three hours for relief vehicles to cover the seven miles from Tacloban airport into the city.
“The first priority of response teams, once they were able to navigate their way in to these areas, is to mobilize the burial of dead bodies because of the public health issues,” he said.
Ging added that there was a desperate need for clean drinking water and food for survivors.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos was expected in Manila to run a joint relief operation by the United Nations and private groups.
The United Nations has already released $25 million from its emergency fund for aid and Amos and the Philippine government will on Tuesday launch a “flash appeal” for cash. UN officials said it was likely to be for hundreds of millions of dollars.
“The scale of devastation is massive and therefore it will require the mobilization of a massive response,” Ging said.
The UN official praised the Philippines government response to the disaster as “very impressive.”