MOBBED by hungry villagers, US military helicopters dropped desperately needed aid into remote areas of the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines – as survivors of the disaster flocked to ruined churches to pray for victims and for their uncertain future.
The Philippines is facing up to an enormous rebuilding task from Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 3,681 people and left 1,186 missing, with many isolated communities yet to receive significant aid despite a massive international relief effort.
Philippine authorities and international aid agencies face a mounting humanitarian crisis, with the number of people displaced by the catastrophe estimated at four million, up from 900,000 late last week.
President Benigno Aquino, caught off guard by the scale of the disaster and criticised by some for the sometimes chaotic response, visited affected areas yesterday.
Not for the first time, he sought to deflect blame for the problems on to local authorities, whose preparations, he said, had fallen short.
In Guiuan, a hard-hit coastal town in eastern Samar province, he praised the city mayor for conducting a proper evacuation that had limited deaths to less than 100, saying that was a contrast to other towns.
"In other places, I prefer not to talk about it. As your president, I am not allowed to get angry even if I am already upset. I'll just suffer through it with an acidic stomach."
While aid packages have begun to reach more remote areas, much of it carried by helicopters brought by the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, the United Nations said people were still going hungry in some mountainous provinces.
The United Nations also said information about several provinces in the west of the Visayas region remained "limited", with 60pc of people in towns in the northeast part of Capiz province needing food support.
"I remain concerned about the health and well-being of the millions of men, women and children.
"They are still in desperate need," UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said in a statement.