Philippine Typhoon Destruction Prompts UN Aid Appeal

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The United Nations appealed for contributions to fund relief operations in the Philippines, where Super Typhoon Haiyan may have killed at least 2,500 people.

The UN is seeking $301 million from donors, David Carden, the agency’s humanitarian affairs representative in the Philippines, said yesterday in Manila. Priorities are food, sanitation, water, hygiene, medicine and communications, he said. About 6.9 million people have been affected by the storm across 41 provinces, with nearly 150,000 houses damaged, the government said.

“You can already smell the stench of death, and you know there are still people buried under debris, under the piles of rubble,” said Gregorio Larrazabal, a former board member of the national commission on elections, who on Nov. 10 and 11 was in one of the towns hardest hit by the typhoon.

The desperation among survivors in Tacloban city, the capital of Leyte province that bore the brunt of gale force winds and storm surges, led President Benigno Aquino to declare a state of calamity on Nov. 11 and plead with locals to be patient. While airports opened, food and other aid was held up by roads that were washed away or covered in debris.

“The national government through the leadership of our president is doing its best to restore the delivery of basic services in affected areas as soon as possible,” Office of Civil Defense Administrator Eduardo del Rosario told reporters in Manila yesterday.

1,833 Confirmed Deaths

In Tacloban, television images showed bodies on the streets and floating in the sea, homes reduced to rubble, roads blocked by felled trees and crops flattened. The number of fatalities may be closer to 2,500 than the 10,000 initially estimated, Aquino told CNN in an interview yesterday.

At least 1,833 people are confirmed dead, with 2,623 injured and 84 missing, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in a 7 a.m. update on its website, making it one of the deadliest storms in the country’s history. In late 2012 Typhoon Bopha killed 1,067 while Thelma killed 5,080 in late 1991.

“The logistical requirements are so big that the government is strongly overwhelmed,” Earl Parreno, an analyst at the Manila-based Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said by phone. “Few people in Eastern Visayas have the capacity to evacuate,” Parreno said. “Most of them have no choice but to stay in Leyte province, and joblessness will be a problem with commerce at a standstill.”

Economic Impact

The government has 18.7 billion pesos ($427 million) to fund reconstruction, Aquino said Nov. 11. There is no plan to sell bonds to fund rebuilding, Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said in a mobile-phone message, and the Treasury has “enough liquidity” for rebuilding.

The peso was steady against the U.S. dollar as of midday, after yesterday weakening to its lowest level since the middle of September. The benchmark equity index was 0.1 percent higher.

“It’s a risk to the growth momentum and will probably raise prices,” BDO Unibank Inc. (BDO) chief market strategist Jonathan Ravelas said by phone of the typhoon’s damage. Still, the typhoon affected an area with smaller output and “even if prices rise, the central bank will still meet its targets,” Ravelas said, adding growth should still be above 7 percent this year and remittances from overseas Filipinos will help.

Field Hospitals

“It will be a long road to recovery,” Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said in a statement. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent launched an appeal for $95 million in aid.

Field hospitals with countries such as Belgium, Japan, Israel and Norway are on the ground, the World Health Organization said in a statement. Malaysia will send a C-130 plane with food, water and tarpaulins to Tacloban while Indonesia will send 75 tons of blankets and other items on six planes, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretariat said on its Twitter account.

There is a need to find suitable burial sites, Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag told ABS-CBN News Channel.

U.S. Carrier

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered aircraft carrier USS George Washington and other Navy ships to assist. The carrier is likely to be in the Philippines within days, the Pentagon said in a statement.

President Barack Obama spoke by phone yesterday with Aquino to express condolences, according to a White House statement. The two leaders discussed “the need for a speedy assessment of what further American resources would be most helpful to assist in the Philippine recovery effort.”

Nearly 250 U.S. military personnel had delivered more than 107,000 pounds (48,500 kilograms) of supplies from the Philippine government and the U.S. Agency for International Development, using MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor and other aircraft, the U.S. Marine Corps said in a statement.

Airports Reopen

All airports affected by Haiyan are operational, with Tacloban airport open for relief efforts and some commercial operations, according to the government disaster-monitoring agency. Power outages are still occurring in some areas.

Newmont Mining Corp., the world’s second-largest gold producer, sends some copper concentrate from its Boddington mine in Australia to Glencore Xstrata’s Pasar smelter in Leyte, said Newmont spokesman Omar Jabara. “Right now it’s unclear if they’re able to take the shipment or not,” he said.

Gigi Virata, executive director at the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines, said she didn’t know of any outsourcing companies or call centers in Tacloban. One call center in Leyte province is being used as a temporary evacuation center.

Gross domestic product in areas hit by the typhoon may decline as much as 10 percent next year, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told Bloomberg Television yesterday. The regions affected account for 12.5 percent of national output, he said.

Still, the country has the fiscal ability to deal with the relief and rebuilding costs, he separately told an investment summit in Manila, given a lower-than-projected budget deficit that’s expected to be within 2 percent of GDP this year.

Better Protect

The government must better protect communities at risk, Senator Loren Legarda, chairman of the upper house committee on climate change, said yesterday in a statement. “We need to rebuild communities with the confidence that we are not rebuilding the risks again,” Legarda said.

The Philippines should deal with the “unfolding impact of climate change now,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said yesterday in a Manila speech.

 

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