Typhoon Haiyan: As it happened on Thursday

Complaining about the slow response of aid agencies, the mayor said more manpower and equipment was needed.

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

4:10 pm: US Navy fleet reaches Philippines to boost aid efforts
The mammoth US aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, armed with 80 aircraft and 5,000 sailors touched the Philippine coast on Thursday along with two escort destroyer ships USS Lassen and USS Mustin, the CNN reported.

The arrival of the US Navy fleet is expected to expedite the relief works enormously as it will be possible to deliver food, water and medicines in copious amounts to the needy victims who are starving since a week.

4:00 pm:`Chinese people sympathetic towards Filipinos`
When China, the world`s second largest economy increased the aid amount to Philippines to $1.64mn, many Chinese took to social media and said that nothing should be offered to a country with which China is embroiled in a dispute.
However, denying such hostile comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that majority of Chinese people were "sympathetic towards the situation of the Philippine people", reported Reuters.

"I don`t know how much comment you saw on the internet, but believe me that the Chinese are a nation who have a lot of sympathy, a people who love peace, who are happy to do good deeds," he told a daily news briefing.

03:30 pm: Philippines FM says it would take `many years` to repair typhoon damage

The monster typhhon that hit Philippines last Friday has inflicted damages that would take "many years" to get repaired, said the country`s Finance Minister Cesar Purisma.

The destruction wrecked by Typhoon Haiyan could also reduce growth by one percentage point next year, the BBC quoted him as saying.

03:00 pm: US warship to reach Philippines today evening

With over 5000 sailors and 80 aircraft, US aircraft carrier USS George Washington is set to reach Philippines Thursday evening.
According to a top US official, the American military support to the typhoon-hit nation would be unprecedented, the BBC reported.

The ship will expedite search and rescue and provide a base for helicopters to carry supplies.

Two US destroyers have already arrived in the Philippines and other US vessels are expected to arrive in about a week, it added.

02:30 pm: `Prez downplaying death toll to avoid panic`

Tacloban City administrator Philippines City administrator Tecson John Lim, who had earlier estimated the number of dead may run into 10, 000, said that the President might have downplayed the death toll in order to avoid too much panic, Reuters reported.

President Benigno Aquino had told the CNN that the number of dead might be around 2200-2500, far lower than the figure of 10,000.

"Of course he doesn`t want to create too much panic. Perhaps he is grappling with whether he wants to reduce the panic so that life goes on," Lim said.

02:10 pm: UN aid chief admits `we have let people down`

Describing the plight in the typhoon-hit nation as `dismal`, UN aid chief Valerie Amos confessed that the humanitarian aid was taking too long to reach the survivors and that the people had been let down by the slow response.

"Yes, I do feel that we have let people down because we have not been able to get in more quickly…We need to get assistance to them now. They are already saying it has taken too long to arrive. Ensuring a faster delivery is our... immediate priority," said Ms Amos.

However she expressed hope that the situation would improve in next 48 hours.

1:30 pm: US to deploy Navy hospital ship in Philippines

In order to cater to the victims of Philippines typhoon victims, the US is readying a Navy hospital ship that would have the capability to treat hundreds of patients at any given time.

The Navy hospital ship named the USNS Mercy, is supposed to be deployed to the Philippines in December, as the slow-moving ship would take three weeks to reach Philippines from San Diego if it first stops in Hawaii to pick up additional personnel and equipment, a US military spokesman said according to a Reuters report.

12:30 pm: `Restoring power could take more than a month`

In wake of the widespread turmoil wrecked by the monster typhoon, communication and power lines have been disrupted with many areas grappling in darkness.

According to Philippine Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, it could take six weeks to restore power to some areas.

11: 50 am: It could have been much worse, says WMO

In spite of the vast destruction unleashed by the typhoon in Philippines, UN`s World Meteorological Organization said that the impact could have been "much worse". WMO had had a word of praise for the government`s warning system saying that the warnings were broadcast regularly on television and over social media and more than 750,000 people across the central Philippines were evacuated.

"As bad as the loss of life was, it could have in fact been much, much worse," Reuters cited Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the U.N.`s World Meteorological Organization as saying.

"Certainly on Thursday and Friday, PAGASA, which is the Philippines` meteorological service, they were sending out regular warnings of a seven-metre (22 ft) storm surge. That was going out on an hourly basis."

11: 30 am: Philippine govt increases the death toll to 2,357

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) put the latest government estimate of total dead at 2,357. The agency added that 3,853 were injured and 77 missing. A total of 74,246 families (359,574 persons) are being served inside 1,099 evacuation centers, added the agency report.

10: 40 am: Mass burials begin in Tacloban City

In the aftermath of the monster typhoon Haiyan disaster, the worst-hit Tacloban City has finally begun to bury the dead.

The burial ceremony took place on Thursday outside the city in a mass grave, where workers buried 30 bodies in black bags. No prayers were said, reported PhilStar.com.

10:10 am: `Dead bodies causing fear, depression; it`s scary`

As scores of dead bodies lay scattered on the roads waiting to be buried, the retrieval teams were facing a tough time collecting all the cadavers and the scenario was creating an environmwnt of "fear and depression", said Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

"There are still so many cadavers in so many areas. It`s scary," AFP quoted the Mayor as saying.

Complaining about the slow response of aid agencies, the mayor said more manpower and equipment was needed.

"I cannot use a truck to collect cadavers in the morning and then use it to distribute relief goods in the afternoon," he added.

"Let`s get the bodies out of the streets. They are creating an atmosphere of fear and depression.

"As many slammed the slow pace of rescue and relief operations, the Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said that the typhoon was the biggest ever logistic hurdle face by the Philippines government and that it had managed the disaster "quiet well".
9:50 pm: China hikes the aid amount to Manila after criticism

Having faced flak for offering a meager aid worth $100,000 to Manila, Beijing has decided to undo the damage by increasing the amount to a total of $1.64 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Even the state-run Global Times newspaper had urged China to assist Philippines saying, "China’s international image is of vital importance to its interests...If it snubs Manila this time, China will suffer great losses.”

The US has offered $20mn, Britain $9.6mn, Australia $9.38$ and the UN has planned to mobilise a $301mn aid for the typhoon-hit nation.

China and Philippines share tense ties due to the disputed islands in South China Sea that are claimed by both. Even Vietnam is embroiled in the islands dispute but the country, which too has bore the brunt of the typhoon, offered $100,000.

9:30 am: President urged to appoint a rehab czar in Typhoon-hit areas

In order to expedite the rescue operations, Governor of Albay Joey Salceda has urged the President Benigno Aquino to appoint a `rehabilitation czar` who would supervise the relief efforts. He also suggested the Cabinet Scey rene Almendras` name for the post and added that the entire operation should be centralized under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

9:00 am: Typhoon Haiyan biggest ever `logistical challenge`, says Govt

Typhoon Haiyan has affected nearly 11 million people and wrecked havoc in the nation that witnesses over 20 cyclones every year.