Chaos hampers typhoon aid effort

MANILA -- Four days after Typhoon Haiyan blew away their homes and livelihoods, most Philippine victims remain in far-flung flooded coastal communities where they so far have been unable to obtain assistance, aid workers say.

The United Nations on Tuesday launched an appeal for $301 million to help victims, while U.S. and British warships headed toward the region.

In its appeal for funds, the U.N. estimated that more than 11 million people have been affected by the typhoon, one of the strongest storms ever to hit land, with 660,000 left homeless. The official death toll passed 1,700 on Tuesday and is expected to rise substantially.

However, Philippine President Benigno Aquino IIIdownplayed estimates that 10,000 or more people may have died, telling CNN that the death toll would more likely be about 2,000 to 2,500 people.

Arriving Tuesday in Manila to coordinate the efforts, U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said that money was needed for “food, health, sanitation, shelter, debris removal and also protection of the most vulnerable.’’

Before her arrival, the U.N. released $25 million in emergency funds. Other governments have pledged more than $35 million.

On the hard-hit island of Leyte, there is only one major airport; it's in the devastated city of Tacloban. Aid workers say that the road from the airport into the city is so clogged with debris, interspersed with the now-putrefying remains of the dead, that it takes three hours to get from the airport into the city center. Roads leading inland are entirely impassable.

"We have not been able to get into the remote communities," Amos told reporters. "Even in Tacloban, because of the debris and the difficulties with logistics and so on, we have not been able to get in the level of supply that we would want to. We are going to do as much as we can to bring in more."

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