UN: We'll Likely Never Know Exact Typhoon Death Toll

It's currently near 4K, but real figure is impossible to arrive at

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 19, 2013 6:43 AM CST | Updated Nov 19, 2013 8:10 AM CST

(Newser) – The most recent Typhoon Haiyan death toll is 3,976, but the UN warns we may never truly know how many died in the devastating Philippines storm. Even after a final figure is released, "it is unlikely we'll ever know the exact total," a rep from the Asia Foundation tells NBC News. Making things particularly difficult is the Philippines' decentralized government, plus a lack of radio communications.

Then there's the fact that destroyed roads and airports, downed power and telephone lines, and intermittent cellphone coverage are combining to make it difficult to reach some areas. And in the hardest-hit places, citizens are more concerned with surviving—with food and fuel in short supply and millions of people homeless—than with counting their dead. Many bodies were also likely swept out to sea and will never be found. Meanwhile, a government official estimated reconstruction could cost $5.8 billion, Reuters reports.

A rainbow rises along damaged homes in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines Tuesday Nov. 19, 2013.   (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Typhoon Haiyan survivors pass by hundreds of victims lying in body bags on the roadside until forensic experts can register and bury them in a mass grave outside Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 19, 2013.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
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