Villagers mob U.S. aid choppers as Philippine relief effort spreads

by AUBREY BELFORD, Reuters
November 17, 2013

Mobbed by hungry villagers, U.S. military helicopters dropped desperately needed aid into remote areas of the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines, as survivors of the disaster flocked to ruined churches on Sunday to pray for their uncertain future.

The Philippines is facing up to an enormous rebuilding task from Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 3,974 people and left 1,186 missing, with many isolated communities yet to receive significant aid despite a massive international relief effort.

Philippine authorities and international aid agencies face a mounting humanitarian crisis, with the number of people displaced by the catastrophe estimated at 4 million, up from 900,000 late last week.

President Benigno Aquino, caught off guard by the scale of the disaster and criticized by some for the sometimes chaotic response, visited affected areas on Sunday. Not for the first time, he sought to deflect blame for the problems onto local authorities whose preparations he said had fallen short.

In Guiuan, a hard-hit coastal town in eastern Samar province, he praised the city mayor for conducting a proper evacuation that had limited deaths to less than 100, saying that was a contrast to other towns.

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