Philippine government defends typhoon response

TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government on Friday defended its efforts to deliver assistance to victims of

Typhoon Haiyan, many of whom have received little or no assistance since the monster storm struck one week ago.

"In a situation like this, nothing is fast enough," Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said in Tacloban, most of which was destroyed

by the storm one week ago. "The need is massive, the need is immediate, and you can't reach everyone."

Government officials have given different death tolls, both actual and estimated, as a result of the storm.

Given the scale of the disaster, and infrastructure and communications problems, this is not unusual.

The spokesman for the country's civil

defense agency, Maj. Reynaldo Balido, confirmed early Friday that the

figure had risen

to 2,360, hours after the United Nations issued conflicting

reports on how many people had died. On the ground in Tacloban,

authorities handed out a situation report stating that 3,422

people had been killed on Samar and Leyte islands, the two most

affected areas.

Some officials estimate that the final toll, when the missing are declared dead and remote regions reached, will be more than


At least 600,000 people have been displaced.

Authorities are struggling to meet their

immediate needs. This often occurs in the aftermath of major disasters,


in already poor countries where local and national governments

lack capacity. It often leads to criticism in some quarters.

The pace of the aid effort has picked up

over the last 24 hours, according to reporters who have been in the

region for several

days. Foreign governments are dispatching food, water, medical

supplies and trained staff to the region. Trucks and generators

are also arriving.

A U.S. aircraft carrier is moored off the coast, preparing for a major relief mission. The fleet of helicopters on board is

expected to drop food and water to the worst affected areas.