Philippines President Benigno Aquino declared a nationwide state of calamity Monday as the Southeast Asian archipelago struggles to recover from catastrophic Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Aquino made the announcement in a televised address from the devastated eastern city of Tacloban, on the island of Leyte, where the provincial government estimates some 10,000 people may have died.
Under a state of calamity, the government may impose price ceilings and other controls to avoid speculation and hoarding of basic goods such as medicine and fuel, the GMA network reported.
Other applicable measures include the creation of special funds for repairing infrastructure and restoring public services and the provision of interest-free loans to the most affected sectors of the population.
“Without a doubt, Tacloban will rise again,” congressman Martin Romualdez told GMA, referring to the task of rebuilding the city hardest hit by the super typhoon, which was equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane when it made landfall Friday morning in the province of Eastern Samar.
At least 70 percent of Tacloban’s buildings, including hangars and the control tower at the city’s airport, were destroyed by the typhoon, which lashed the central Philippines with maximum sustained winds greater than 240 kph (150 mph).
The lack of basic supplies has caused desperation in that municipality of 220,000, where thousands of people seeking to leave the city have been begging for a seat on military helicopters, supermarkets have been repeatedly looted and a Red Cross aid convoy was attacked by a mob.
The spokesman for the Philippines’ emergency management office, Reynaldo Balido, said one of the “main priorities” was to restore law and order in Tacloban and other nearby areas.
To that end, National Police officers and army soldiers have been deployed to the region.
Although unofficial figures and reports on the ground indicate more than 10,000 may have died on Leyte Island, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council was continuing its slow and steady official tally of fatalities.
That agency’s last bulletin put the death toll at 255 and said 71 people were reportedly injured and 38 missing. It also said nearly 9.7 million people were affected and 615,000 left homeless, 433,000 of whom are being housed at 1,444 shelters.
Haiyan made landfall early Monday in northern Vietnam after weakening in the South China Sea and currently is moving toward southern China as a tropical storm.