Japanese, British and US aid in transit

Minimal amounts of help have reached worst-hit areas

Locals and foreigners boarding a US military C-130 evacuation flight yesterday. Photograph: AP Photo/Wally Santana

Locals and foreigners boarding a US military C-130 evacuation flight yesterday. Photograph: AP Photo/Wally Santana


Desperation is growing in the devastated path of Typhoon Haiyan after heavy rains lashed survivors facing a fifth day without food, water or basic medical supplies.

International relief efforts have intensified with the launch of a UN appeal and the dispatch of US, British and Japanese troops to the affected regions of the Philippines. But minimal amounts of aid have reached the worst-hit areas.

More than 3,000 people surged on to the tarmac of Tacloban airport yesterday morning in the hope of flying out on the two Philippines Air Force planes that had just arrived.

Babies, the sick and the elderly were prioritised, but only a few hundred people were able to leave, with others held back by soldiers and police officers.

The air force has just three C-130 cargo planes to deliver supplies and pick up survivors.

US army major Leo Liebreich said American forces were hoping to bring five more C-130s to Tacloban to help ferry out evacuees.

While the air force said it had reached one of the worst-hit cities – Guiuan in eastern Samar province, where the typhoon first made landfall – domestic and international relief efforts have been hampered by bad weather, poor communications and damaged infrastructure. At present Tacloban can receive aircraft only during daylight.

The New York Times suggested that flights may also have been held up by the government’s decision not to ask the US military to help manage air control at the facility, as it has done elsewhere. The air control tower was destroyed by Haiyan.

Corizon Soliman, secretary of the Philippine department of social welfare and development, said aid had reached one-third of the city’s 45,000 families.

The UN said more than 11.3 million people had been affected by the typhoon with 673,000 of those displaced.

The UN has released $25 million (€18.6 million) in emergency funds. Its aid chief, Valerie Amos, launched an appeal for $300 million in Manila.

“We have deployed specialist teams . . . but we have to do more and faster,” she said.

The US, Britain, Japan and Australia and others have pledged tens of millions of euros in immediate aid.

The USS George Washington aircraft carrier – carrying about 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft – and four other US navy ships should arrive in two to three days, said the Pentagon.

Britain’s HMS Daring – with equipment to make drinking water from seawater – should arrive around the same time.

Japan is also sending a 40-strong team from its self-defence force. – (Guardian service)