Survivors in remote areas of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan said Friday that they had been ignored by relief efforts, even as aid began to reach some of the worst-affected zones.
The logistical logjam that delayed the distribution of international food and medical supplies is finally easing, but many rural islands communities have yet to receive any help.
Jose Barrios, a tourism worker, said the small island of Polopina, in the Concepcion municipality, had borne the full brunt of last week's deadly storm.
Jim Seida / NBC News
Despite thick oil slicking his hands, 14-year-old Giray Boreros uses a hacksaw Friday to collect scrap iron in the devastated fishing town of Estancia, Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan hit here with such force that a barge ran aground, spilling approximately 1.4 million liters of oil into the bay, according to the town's mayor.
"Concepcion is completely wrecked," he told NBC News on Friday. "We don't have anything at all. People are asking for help. We need clean water, food, clothes. People have lost everything."
He said that with all the focus on ruined cities such as Tacloban and Cebu, areas like his were being neglected.
"The main focus right now is on Tacloban, and because we're pretty remote and no one knows our place, I guess they haven't noticed what we lost," he said. "Pretty much they are all focused on one place, and they are forgetting people who are in bad way. Of course, we feel bad for them, but we're in a bad way, too."
Barrios said that with no aid arriving, he was forced to make the perilous journey for supplies to Iloilo on the nearby island of Panay.
The U.N. said Thursday that the death toll from the monster typhoon had reached 4,200. The Philippine government disputes this figure, although its count jumped from around 2,360 to 3,631 on Friday.
The government added that the police official who told reporters that the death toll could be 10,000 had been removed from his post and counseled for stress, the Manila Times reported. A government spokeswoman said: "There is no attempt to hide or to fudge any figures."
U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said Thursday that she acknowledged that aid should have been quicker in coming and more widely distributed.
"I think we are all extremely distressed that it is already day six and we have not managed to reach everyone," she told reporters in Manila.
East of Conception, on the badly hit island of Samar, residents of Marabut said they, too, felt overlooked by the relief effort.
"We feel totally forgotten," local government official Mildred Labado told The Associated Press. Medical supplies in the town were so short that people were covering wounds with masking tape instead of gauze and stoking fires with the wreckage of buildings.
"Help me!" some children in Marabut shouted to a journalist, according to the AP. "Put me on Facebook!"
With the U.N. estimating that 900,000 people had been displaced, an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that 12,000 babies would be born in disaster areas in the next month, further exacerbating the lack of food, water, and medical supplies.
"It is very important that all the reproductive health kits are there so that they ... have a clean delivery and the medical service for pregnant women and newborn babies [is] established very quickly," Julie Hall, the WHO's representative in the country, told The Philippine Star.
"Mixing formula with dirty water would be deadly for babies. Breastfeeding babies even at the best of times, even when there is no disaster, is the best thing you could do for a baby. It is absolutely vital that women are supported to breastfeed their babies fully for six months."
The WHO has also advised against mass burials, the first of which was seen in Tacloban on Thursday.
The organization's "Management of Dead Bodies in Disaster Situations" manual says identifying dead bodies is important so families and friends can say goodbye.
However, it says, "as a last resort, unidentified bodies should be placed in individual niches or trenches, which is a basic human right of the surviving family members."
Kyle Eppler and Alastair Jamieson of NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published November 15 2013, 3:29 AM