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Aquino under mounting pressure over aid distribution

Friday, November 15, 2013 - 01:46

Nov. 15 - The death toll from a powerful typhoon that swept the central Philippines nearly doubled overnight, reaching 4,000, as international aid begins flying into the disaster zone. Sarah Toms reports.

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As planes fly food, water and medical teams into into this ruined airport in the central Philippines, survivors of last week's super typhoon clamour to get out. Hundreds of people line up in the searing heat waiting hours for an opportunity to escape the city of Tacloban nearly washed away by giant waves and powerful winds. Hungry, homeless and grieving, people are growing increasingly desperate and angry. Stunned survivors say the death toll could be many thousands. The UN says more than 920,000 people have been displaced but many areas have yet to receive aid. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UN DISASTER ASSESSMENT TEAM LEADER, SEBASTIAN RHODES STAMPA, SAYING: "Look, the business of disaster response is a typical one, and I'm very glad we could be here to help, but yeah, I'm not going to be happy until we've covered the whole of the needs, and we're not covering them yet. Tacloban's one thing but we need to get out of Tacloban, we need to get out into the hinterlands and to cover those needs as well. So until we've done that, me and my team, we'll remain here and it's a hard slog but it's well worthwhile." Philippine President Benigno Aquino has been criticized for the slow pace of aid distribution and downplaying casualties. On Friday he made his presence known visiting five aid centres, a university, military bases and a welfare agency. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO SAYING: "Later on, the problem will be housing all of these people. Right now it's the basic necessities -- food and water. Transport is ready, funding is also available. Severing the supply chain, we're working on that, that's why we have your fuel supplies, in about an hour or so, an hour or a half." The distribution of aid has been hindered by looting and a lack of fuel for rescue vehicles trying to get through the clogged roads. There are some signs, though that things are gradually returning to normal... Under armed guard a petrol station reopens. People are beginning to pick up the pieces of their lives....clearing the streets strewn with debris and bodies.

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Aquino under mounting pressure over aid distribution

Friday, November 15, 2013 - 01:46