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Typhoon Haiyan: Survivors take the initiative amid slow relief effort

TACLOBAN, Philippines - As international aid slowly trickled out to remote areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, survivors began their own efforts to rebuild Sunday, setting up food stalls and opening gas stations.

The Philippines government is facing criticism for its slow response to the crisis, with many communities still without help more than one week after the powerful storm smashed across a huge swath of the country.

Food and medical supplies are piled high at depots and military bases, but distributing that aid to rural areas remains a huge task.

U.S. military aircraft supported by the Navy carrier USS George Washington can be heard repeatedly crossing the skies above Tacloban’s crumpled, chaotic airport.

In the waterfront shanty town area known as Sea Wall, survivors have taken the initiative by trying to restore some kind of order in the absence of government officials.

Gas stations have reopened, but with long lines and stalls have emerged selling consumer goods and food.

On one roadside, an underground power line had been tapped and turned into a cell phone charging station with dozens crouching and lining to recharge their mobile handsets.

Almost 4,000 have died, and millions more displaced, by Typhoon Haiyan.

Aid agencies face a mounting humanitarian crisis, with the threat of disease growing by the day.

President Benigno Aquino, caught off guard by the scale of the disaster and criticized by some for the sometimes chaotic response, visited affected areas Sunday, Reuters reported.

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," said Aquino, according to Reuters. "Until I am satisfied with what I am seeing, I will stay here for a while."

The United Nations said survivors were still going hungry in some mountainous provinces. It said information about several provinces in the west of the Visayas region remained "limited", with 60 percent 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 who are still in desperate need," U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said in a statement.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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