By Dominique van Heerden, CNN
A well-publicized estimate that Typhoon Haiyan killed 10,000 people in the Philippines is "too much," and the death toll likely is closer to 2,000 or 2,500, President Benigno Aquino told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
“There was emotional trauma involved with that particular estimate quoting both the police official and local government,” he said, adding that “they did not have a basis for it”. He did however acknowledge that the number “might still get higher.”
President Aquino said they are still trying to establish their numbers and have another 29 municipalities to contact before they can finalize a death toll.
Typhoon Haiyan is one of the worst typhoons in recorded history, and the monster storm left behind a catastrophic scene after it made landfall last Friday, leaving many without access to food and medical care.
When asked about his government’s reaction to the crisis, President Aquino told Amanpour he feels the immediate response has been “reassuring” to the vast majority of people but that “two or three” local governments were “simply overwhelmed” by the severity of the typhoon that hit the islands. For example, in Tacloban, only 20 of 290 police were available when disaster struck; many were tending to their own families, he said.
Aquino expressed gratitude for the aid that has been pouring in from around the world. "There are, at last count, over 22 countries have either pledged to us, actually given us aid," he said.
Typhoons are not an unusual occurrence in the Philippines, but the president says this year has been “an exceptionally bad year”. Responding to a question about the vulnerability of his country to climate change, President Aquino called it an “accepted reality”. But, he had a stark warning to developed countries, saying there has to be a sense of moral responsibility because global warming is “playing havoc” with the lives of others.
“Either we come up with a solution that everybody adheres to and cooperates with,” he said, “or let us be prepared to meet disasters, every increasing disasters, on a global level.”