ADB offers $523 million in relief for Philippine typhoon victims

Reuters

MANILA (Reuters) - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced on Wednesday $523 million in disaster assistance for Philippine communities ravaged by super typhoon Haiyan, as authorities continued to struggle to bring relief to millions of victims.

The Manila-based lender said it would provide $23 million in grants to address immediate needs, the latest in a growing list of offers to the Philippines from around the world.

It also stands ready to provide the Philippines with a $500 million emergency loan to help reconstruct communities flattened by the one of the strongest storms ever recorded.

"We are working in close collaboration with the government and all other international agencies to provide hope and rebuild the lives of more than 11 million people affected by what is being described as one of the Philippines' worst ever natural disasters," ADB President Takehiko Nakao said in a statement.

The government has been overwhelmed by the force of the typhoon, which decimated large swathes of Leyte province where local officials have said they feared 10,000 people died, many drowning in a tsunami-like surge of seawater.

President Benigno Aquino said the officials had overstated the loss of life, saying the death toll was closer to 2,000 or 2,500.

The overall financial cost of the destruction was hard to assess. Initial estimates varied widely, with a report from German-based CEDIM Forensic Disaster Analysis putting the total at $8 billion to $19 billion.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Nick Macfie)