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Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 08:21
US, British warships bring aid
By Agencies in Tacloban, Philippines and Hong Kong

US, British warships bring aid
Typhoon victims wait to be evacuated at the airport in Tacloban, on the eastern island of Leyte on Tuesday after Super Typhoon Haiyan swept over the Philippines. (Philippe Lopez / Agence France-Presse)

Rescuers trying to reach villages in remote areas of the Philippines

A US aircraft carrier set sail for the Philippines on Tuesday to accelerate relief efforts after a typhoon killed an estimated 10,000 people in one coastal city alone, with fears the toll could rise sharply as rescuers reach more isolated towns.

The nuclear-powered USS George Washington, carrying about 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft, was joined by four other US navy ships and should arrive in two to three days, the Pentagon said, confirming a Reuters report.

“The weather is pretty bad out there, so we are limited by seas and wind,” Captain Thomas Disy, commander of the USS Antietam, a missile cruiser that’s part of the carrier group, told reporters in Hong Kong. “But we are going to be going as fast as we possibly can.”

The fleet’s helicopters and aircraft will deliver aid from ship to shore, shuttling back and forth to provide supplies such as water, food and medical supplies.

“It’s a complete aircraft carrier strike group going into the area. That’s a pretty sizeable response,” said Disy.

Philippine officials have been overwhelmed by Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest on record, which tore through the central Philippines on Friday and flattened Tacloban, the coastal capital of Leyte province where officials fear 10,000 people died, many drowning in a tsunami-like wall of seawater.

Relief supplies poured into Tacloban along roads flanked with uncollected corpses and canyons of debris. Rescue workers scrambled to reach other towns and villages still cut off, which could reveal the full extent of the casualties and devastation.

“There are hundreds of other towns and villages stretched over thousands of kilometers that were in the path of the typhoon and with which all communication has been cut,” said Natasha Reyes, emergency coordinator in the Philippines for Doctors Without Borders.

“No one knows what the situation is like in these more rural and remote places, and it’s going to be some time before we have a full picture.”

She described the devastation as unprecedented for the Philippines, a disaster-prone archipelago of more than 7,000 islands that sees about 20 typhoons a year, likening the storm to “a massive earthquake followed by huge floods”.

About 660,000 people have been displaced and many have no access to food, water or medicine, the United Nations said.

Britain is also sending a navy warship with equipment to make drinking water from seawater and a military transport aircraft. The HMS Daring left Singapore and expects to arrive in two or three days.

President Benigno Aquino declared a state of national calamity and deployed hundreds of soldiers in Tacloban, a once-vibrant port city of 220,000 that’s now a corpse-choked wasteland without any sign of a government, as city and hospital workers focus on saving their families and securing food.

“Basically, the only branch of government that is working here is the military,” Philippine Army Captain Ruben Guinolbay told Reuters in Tacloban. “That is not good. We are not supposed to take over government.”

Reuters—AFP

 

 
 
 
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