Police Chief Who Wrongly Predicted 10K Death Toll in Philippines Removed From Post

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 14 2013 10:46 AM

Police Chief Who Wrongly Predicted 10K Death Toll in Philippines Removed From Post

Affected residents survey the damage in Tacloban City on November 14, 2013 in Tacloban, Philippines

Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

Two days after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, and with much of the world fearing the worst, Philippines National Police chief superintendent Elmer Soria offered up the estimate that seemed to confirm those fears: As many as 10,000 people were dead, he estimated, providing fodder for headlines and breaking news alerts around the world. That number, we now know, was thankfully wrong. On Thursday, the police department announced that Soria was being removed from his post:

Col. Reuben Sindac, spokesman for the Philippines National Police, confirmed to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Chief Superintendent Elmer Soria was removed as head of the regional office that oversees police operations in the central Philippines, where Typhoon Haiyan, locally called Yolanda, unleashed her gale-force winds and whipped up 15-foot-high storm surges before leaving the country Saturday.

While authorities on the ground are sadly still counting bodies in the wake of the superstorm, the good news is that it appears likely that the final tally will be nowhere near the figure first offered by Soria. The bad news, of course, is that the official death toll still stands at a staggering 2,357—and will likely inch higher as authorities continue to dig through the rubble. "We’re hoping to be able to contact something like 29 municipalities left wherein we have to establish their numbers, especially the missing," President Benigno Aquino III told CNN this week. "But so far 2,000 to 2,500 is the figure we’re working on as far as death is concerned."

While the 10,000 estimate has (again, thankfully) proved faulty, the nation still suffered incalculable damage, the recovery from which will take years, not weeks or even months. With that in mind, a reminder not to send your hand-me-downs; send money.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 



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