Philippine President Benigno Aquino declared a state of calamity to speed aid to areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan, which may have killed more than 10,000 people, as rain from a new storm complicated relief efforts.
The government has 18.7 billion pesos ($429 million) to fund reconstruction after Haiyan unleashed storm surges and gale-force winds that caused vast destruction, Aquino said yesterday in a televised address.
The devastation may harm the economy, the government said. The storm affected as many as 9.7 million people, according to authorities, and 22 countries have pledged assistance. Soldiers were dispatched to prevent looting as survivors scoured for food.
“In the coming days, be assured — help will reach you faster and faster,” Aquino said. “The delivery of food, water and medicines to the most heavily affected areas is at the head of our priorities.”
Haiyan slammed into the central Philippines on Nov. 8, knocking down buildings and trees and flattening crops. In Tacloban city, the capital of Leyte province, television images showed bodies on the streets and floating in the sea, homes reduced to rubble, structures with their roofs ripped off and roads blocked by felled trees.
More than 1,774 people are confirmed dead, with 2,500 injured and 82 missing, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s 10 a.m. report. In December 2012, Typhoon Bopha killed 1,067 people while Typhoon Thelma, the deadliest in Philippine history, killed 5,080 in November 1991.
An estimated 660,000 people have been displaced by the typhoon, John Ging, an official with the United Nations humanitarian affairs office, told reporters in New York.
Losses will be $12 billion to $15 billion, or about 5 percent of economic output, according to an estimate by Charles Watson, director of research and development at Kinetic Analysis Corp., a disaster-modeling firm. “A $12 billion storm is not really that bad here in the U.S.,” Watson said in an e-mail. “For the Philippine islands, it is catastrophic.”
The peso weakened 0.2 percent as of midday to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar since the middle of September, and the nation’s benchmark equity index gained 0.4 percent after dropping 1.4 percent yesterday.
“The 18.7 billion pesos the president mentioned is probably just an initial amount,” said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at BDO Unibank Inc., the nation’s largest lender. There is no plan to sell bonds to fund reconstruction, Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said in a mobile-phone message today, and the Treasury has “enough liquidity” for rebuilding.
Intermittent rain is making relief efforts in Tacloban “difficult,” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said in a phone interview aired on ABS-CBN News Channel.
Tropical depression Zoraida is 91 kilometers (57 miles) northeast of Davao City after making landfall in the southern island of Mindanao, with maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour, according to the Philippine weather bureau.
Thirty areas, mostly in Mindanao and Visayas, remain under the lowest storm alert signal, it said, and rainfall may be moderate to heavy.
The UN’s Ging, who said the death toll may exceed previous estimates of 10,000, described “huge” devastation of airports and roads hindering the delivery of aid. Large airlifts will be needed to deliver supplies until roads “strewn with dead bodies” are cleared, he said.
Valerie Amos, the UN’s chief coordinator of humanitarian affairs, has allocated a preliminary $25 million to help aid organizations, Ging said.
The UN refugee agency planned an emergency airlift tomorrow to deliver blankets, mosquito nets, soap and underwear, as well as a team to provide protection against the looting and mobbing of relief trucks reported in some areas.
The British Embassy in Manila announced an aid package of as much as $9.5 million, and President Barack Obama said in a statement the U.S. is ready to help relief and recovery efforts.
The Defense Department has dispatched about 215 U.S. troops to provide initial assessments of the support required, according to statements from the Marine Corps.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered aircraft carrier USS George Washington and other Navy ships to head to the Philippines, the Pentagon said in a statement. The carrier, which carries 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft, is in Hong Kong for a port visit, with crew being recalled from shore leave and the ship likely to be on station within two to three days, the Pentagon said in the statement.
Britain deployed a Royal Navy warship and military transport aircraft to help, Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement Nov. 11. Taiwan dispatched a military plane to airlift supplies, the Central News Agency reported.
The state of calamity will “accelerate the efforts of the government to render aid and to rehabilitate the provinces ravaged” by the typhoon, Aquino said. “This is important so we can ensure control over the prices of the basic commodities and services.”
The government also approved an extra 1.1 billion pesos in “quick response fund” of the departments of social welfare and public works, the president said. The police pledged to strictly enforce a price freeze on basic commodities such as rice.
“People are looting because they are hungry,” the country’s police chief Alan Purisima told reporters yesterday in Manila. “The supplies we placed on standby were also washed away by the storm. Most of our police in storm-hit areas are either missing or affected.”
The chaos on the ground after the storm shows “this government has not learned from previous experiences,” Benito Lim, a political science professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, said by phone. “The government should mobilize the police and military or train people to clear the roads so food and water can reach the victims,” Lim said.
Four of five airports affected by Haiyan reopened for commercial operations, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director General William Hotchkiss told Bloomberg television. Tacloban airport, the most damaged of all, is open for relief efforts and some commercial operations, he said.
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. 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.
The World Bank has asked the government how it can help, spokesman Frederick Jones said in an e-mailed statement.