World sends emergency relief to battered Philippines

2013-11-11 08:41

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Manila – The United States, Australia and the United Nations are mobilising emergency aid to the Philippines as the scale of the devastation unleashed by Super Typhoon Haiyan emerges.

The Pentagon is sending military personnel and equipment to assist with the relief effort following the typhoon, which may have killed more than 10 000 people in what is feared to be the country’s worst natural disaster.

“The United States is already providing significant humanitarian assistance, and we stand ready to further assist the government’s relief and recovery efforts,” US President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Some 90 Marines and sailors, and two KC-130J Hercules aircraft, left Japan for the Philippines on Saturday with equipment including tilt-rotor aircraft which can operate without runways, Marines Colonel John Peck said.

The Australian government pledged Aus$10 million dollars (R97 million), with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop describing the unfolding tragedy as “absolutely devastating” and on a “massive scale”.

The sum includes Aus$4 million towards a UN global appeal and Aus$3 million for Australian non-government organisations. The aid will include tarpaulins, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, water containers and health and hygiene kits.

Philippine rescue teams were said to be overwhelmed in their efforts to help those whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed after Haiyan ravaged large swathes of the archipelago Friday.

Officials were struggling to cope with the scale of death and destruction, with reports of violent looters and scarcity of food, drinking water and shelter.

United Nations leader Ban Ki-moon promised UN humanitarian agencies would “respond rapidly to help people in need”.

The UN children’s fund UNICEF said a cargo plane carrying 60 tonnes of aid, including shelters and medicine, would arrive in the Philippines Tuesday, to be followed by deliveries of water purification and sanitation equipment.

Pope Francis led 60 000 people in Sunday prayers for the Philippines, urging the faithful to provide “concrete help” to the largely Roman Catholic country.

“Sadly, there are many, many victims and the damage is huge,” he said.

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