The disaster relief system in the Philippines collapsed in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, President Benigno Aquino admitted.
On the second day of a tour of the islands of Samar and Leyte, where thousands died and millions were left homeless, Aquino said he was "driven to despair" by the disaster.
"The systems failed," he said. "We had a breakdown in power, a breakdown in communications, a breakdown in practically everything."
Although airlifts of aid were beginning to reach even the most isolated areas struck by the strongest typhoon to hit land ever recorded, senior officials said there were still hurdles to the operation.
The United Nations said up to 2.5 million people remained in need of assistance. The official death toll stands at 3976 with 1598 people missing.