Manila - The president declared a state of national calamity on Monday and appealed for calm after one of the world's strongest typhoons hit the Philippines and survivors desperate for food and water resorted to looting.
Aid workers and relief supplies were being poured into eastern provinces hit on Friday by Typhoon Haiyan, which aid agencies and officials estimated has left thousands dead and staggering destruction in its wake.
"It is sad that the situation is leading to desperation," the national police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Reuben Sindac, said in a radio interview.
"We cannot begin to understand the situation of those affected, but this is no reason to resort to crime and violence," he told Manila-based DZMM radio.
President Benigno Aquino declared the state of calamity to speed up government relief.
"In the coming days, I assure you that help will come faster," he said in a televised address. "My only appeal is for people to be calm, pray, cooperate and help each other. These are the only ways we will overcome from this tragedy."
Aquino said he has ordered the release of 1.1 billion pesos to augment relief funds while 22 countries have sent assistance.
At least 1 774 people were confirmed killed in the eastern Philippines, most drowned by tsunami-like waves that flattened towns, according to the national disaster relief agency. More than 2 000 were injured and at least 82 missing.
More than 9 million were affected, including more than 600 000 people displaced, the agency said.
Looting was reported in the aftermath in Tacloban City, the capital of Leyte province, one of the worst-hit areas.
Mobs broke into shopping malls, convenience stores and drugstores in Tacloban while there were also reports of robbers targeting vehicles on the roads.
A Philippine Red Cross truck carrying supplies was attacked on Sunday in Tanawan, the organisation's chairperson said.
"We cannot allow anarchy to reign," Sindac said.