Philippines typhoon death toll tops 6,000

Updated 22 December 2013
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Philippines typhoon death toll tops 6,000

MANILA: The number of people dead after one of the world’s strongest typhoons struck the Philippines has risen above 6,000, the government said Friday, with nearly 2,000 others still missing.
Five weeks after Super Typhoon Haiyan destroyed entire towns across the nation’s central islands, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council put the official death toll at 6,009, making it the Philippines’ deadliest recorded typhoon.
The council said it is still looking for 1,779 missing people amid an international relief and rehabilitation effort covering a large devastated area about the size of Portugal.
The number of people confirmed dead or unaccounted for continues to rise steadily. On November 23, more than two weeks after the storm struck, officials put the death toll at 5,235 and listed 1,613 people as still missing.
The latest official count puts Haiyan nearly on par with a 1976 tsunami in the southern Philippines, generated by a major undersea earthquake in the Moro Gulf, that left between 5,000 and 8,000 people dead.
The Haiyan toll has already surpassed Tropical Storm Thelma, which unleashed floods that killed more than 5,100 people in the central city of Ormoc in 1991, previously the country’s deadliest storm.
The United Nations asked donors this week to more than double their emergency aid donations to the Philippines to $791 million to cover needs over 12 months.
The government said more than four million people lost their homes to either Haiyan’s 315 kilometers (195 miles) per hour winds or tsunami-like storm surges, and some would continue to need food aid as well as shelters and jobs.
As part of the international aid effort, an Indonesian official who rebuilt Aceh after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was in the Philippines on Friday to help the neighboring country recover from the typhoon.
Senior Minister Kuntoro Mangkusubroto visited the hard-hit central city of Tacloban at the Philippine government’s invitation to provide insights on managing large-scale recovery programs, the United Nations Development Programme said in a statement.
“I’m here to offer the government and the international community my experience as the coordinator of rehabilitation of Aceh,” Mangkusubroto said in the statement.
“I look forward to sharing my expertise and contributing to designing an efficient recovery plan for the areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan,” he added.
“The aim of this significant visit by Dr. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto is to share ways to ensure that the recovery process in the Philippines will build resilience against future typhoons,” said the UN’s humanitarian and resident coordinator Luiza Carvalho.
Mangkusubroto was the director of Indonesia’s National Agency for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation for Aceh and Nias islands, which accounted for about half the 200,000-plus deaths caused by the 2004 tsunami.


Kim and Moon to meet at military demarcation line before inter-Korea summit

Updated 7 min 17 sec ago
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Kim and Moon to meet at military demarcation line before inter-Korea summit

  • When Kim Jong Un steps over the line he will become the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the Korean War ended 65 years ago
  • Kim will be given a military honor guard on Friday and the two leaders will walk to the Peace House, a glass and concrete building on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom

SEOUL: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s president Moon Jae-in will meet at the Military Demarcation Line that divides the peninsula before their summit Friday, Seoul said, in an occasion laden with symbolism.
Moon will greet his visitor at the concrete blocks that mark the border between the two Koreas in the Demilitarized Zone, the chief of the South’s presidential secretariat Im Jong-seok said.
When Kim steps over the line he will become the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the Korean War ended 65 years ago.
The meeting will be only the third of its kind, following summits in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007, and the high point so far of a rapid diplomatic rapprochement on the tension-wracked peninsula, ahead of a much-anticipated meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump.
The North’s nuclear arsenal will be high on the agenda. Pyongyang has made rapid progress in its weapons development under Kim, who inherited power from his father in 2011.
Last year it carried out its sixth nuclear blast, by far its most powerful to date, and launched missiles capable of reaching the US mainland, sending tensions soaring as Kim and Trump traded personal insults and threats of war.
Moon seized on the South’s Winter Olympics as an opportunity to try to broker dialogue between them.
But Im played down expectations, saying that the North’s technological advances meant deal would need to be “fundamentally different in nature from denuclearization agreements reached in the 1990s and early 2000s.”
“That’s what makes this summit all the more difficult,” he added.
“The difficult part is at what level the two leaders will be able to reach an agreement regarding (the North’s) willingness to denuclearize,” he said, “and how it will be expressed in text.”
In the past, North Korean support for the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” has been code for the removal of US troops from the South and the end of its nuclear umbrella over its security ally — prospects unthinkable in Washington.
Trump has demanded the North give up its weapons, and Washington is pressing for it to do so in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way.
Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, said that the issue was “not something that can be decided between the North and South.”
“North Korea will want to see first what kind of offer it will get on regime security guarantees,” he said.
“That will be discussed at the US-North Korea summit and it’s not easy to promise denuclearization before any concrete talks on that.”
In recent days Seoul has promoted the idea of a path toward a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which stopped with a cease-fire, but Im did not mention the issue.
Reunions of families left divided by the conflict could also be discussed, and Moon has told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he would raise the emotive subject of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the North’s agents.
Kim will be given a military honor guard on Friday and the two leaders will walk to the Peace House, a glass and concrete building on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom where the summit will be held.
Kim will sign the guest book before the morning session starts, Im said, describing the occasion as a “summit for peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula.”
The North’s group will cross back to its side for lunch, and before the afternoon session Moon and Kim will together plant “a pine tree, which stands for peace and prosperity, on the (Military Demarcation Line), which has symbolized confrontation and division over the past 65 years,” Im said.
The soil will come from Mount Paektu, on the North’s border with China, and Mount Halla, on the South’s southern island of Jeju.
After they sign an agreement a joint statement will be issued.
“We are thinking it could be called the ‘Panmunjom Declaration’,” Im added.
A banquet and farewell ceremony will follow in the evening before Kim returns to the North.
Pyongyang’s delegation will include Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong, one of his closest advisers, who attended the Winter Olympics in the South in February as his envoy.
The North’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam, who accompanied Yo Jong to the Games, will also be part of the group, as will its foreign and defense ministers.
“Unlike in the past, the delegation includes top military official and diplomats,” Im said.
“We did not expect this. We believe it signals that North Korea views the summit not just as a North-South summit but is also considering the US-North Korea summit.”