• Palace confirms Yolanda death toll at 100

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    The death toll in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), the strongest typhoon in the world that hit the Philippines on Friday morning, has reached 100, a Palace official confirmed on Saturday.

    Rene Almendras, the Secretary to the Cabinet, made the disclosure over a television interview over the Amercian unit Cable News Network .

    “100 is the figure that we have now. It is not yet official, but that was the report of our team on the ground. There are two Cabinet members there, the Secretary of National Defense and Interior and Local Government, who were already there before the storm hit so we are getting quite accurate reports from them,” Almendras said.

    Almendras was referring to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd.

    Further, Almendras said that the government will set up a command center in Western Visayas in addition to the command center in Eastern Visayas for better coordination of relief efforts.

    The Eastern Visayas covers the islands of Leyte, Samar and Biliran.

    The Western Visayas, on the other hand, is composed of the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Guimaras and Iloilo.

    “While the casualties are lower in the Western part compared with the East, the destruction brought by the typhoon was just as bad. We expect more people to be housed in the evacuation centers. We have prepositioned relief goods ahead of this, and that would be good for two to three days,” Almendras added.

    As of Saturday, government officials who flew in to the affected areas include: Executive Director Eduardo Del Rosario of the National Disaster Risk Management and Monitoring Council, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman and Philippine Air Force Commanding General Lieutenant General Lauro Dela Cruz. These officials are coming with medical teams of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and 12,000 pounds of various relief goods, power generator, communications equipment and water purifier, among others.

    In a separate interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the President Benigno Aquino 3rd has tasked the government authorities to prioritize the safety of the people and ensure that the lines of communication are restored at the soonest possible time.

    “The President wants everybody accounted for. As for the telecommunication companies, they are working against the clock in restoring their services,” Valte said in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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