MANILA, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Philippine President Benigno Aquino has defended his low initial estimate of deaths from Typhoon Haiyan after the storm passed through the central Philippines.
Aquino said the estimate of 2,000 to 2,500 deaths he gave CNN last week was based on early reports from the storm-ravaged area, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Tuesday.
The official death toll now stands at 5,209, not including 1,755 unidentified bodies recovered last week in Tacloban City, where the super-typhoon made landfall. The official body count there reached 1,932 Monday.
"The actual figure now is really way beyond the initial estimate I gave," the president said.
More bodies are being recovered as workers clear communities devastated by the Nov. 8 cyclone, known in the Philippines as Yolanda.
The government will no longer give estimates, Aquino said. "We want to give figures [that cannot be doubted], because we don't want to increase the people's anxiety, especially those with missing relatives."
He acknowledged the criticism of the low death toll provided by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
The body count was low, Aquino said, because "you have to make sure that there is the certification or a coroner's report before it is made official."