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

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Posted at 9:23 AM, Nov 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-12 11:23:29-05

By CNN Staff

(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, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“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.

By Tuesday, Philippines officials 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.

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,” he said.

The typhoon wreaked havoc on power lines and communications facilities, which meant government officials had immense difficulties in identifying the 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.

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