US carrier arrives with aid as Philippines buries dead
  • This Section
  • Latest
  • Web Wrap
Last Updated: Thursday, November 14, 2013, 23:30
  
Tacloban: A huge US aircraft carrier arrived off the coast of the typhoon-hit Philippines on Thursday, offering hope of a dramatic uptick in aid to destitute survivors as officials buried scores of rotting corpses.

The USS George Washington, with 5,000 sailors aboard, headed an eight-strong flotilla of US vessels bearing badly needed equipment, supplies and expertise for the thousands left homeless and hungry by one of the strongest storms in history.

But almost a week after Super Typhoon Haiyan swept through the country's central islands, killing thousands and leaving a security vacuum in its wake, desperation was still apparent and many of the dead remained unburied.

"I do feel that we have let people down," conceded United Nations humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos, who had visited the shattered city of Tacloban on Wednesday.

"Those who have been able to leave have done so. Many more are trying. People are extremely desperate for help," she told reporters in Manila.

"We need to get assistance to them now. They are already saying it has taken too long to arrive. Ensuring a faster delivery is our... Immediate priority."

The world body's leader Ban Ki-moon, currently in Latvia, later added UN agencies and teams "are on the ground to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance".

"Especially in the southern part there are tens of thousands of people exposed to the elements. We are doing everything possible to rush assistance to those who need it."

Around 110 corpses were interred in a mass grave today before heavy-digging machinery broke down, Tacloban mayor Alfred Romualdez said.

They were placed at the bottom of a huge pit that is expected to be several layers deep by the time it is covered over with earth.

"There are still so many cadavers in so many areas. It's scary," Romualdez told AFP, adding that retrieval teams were struggling to cope.

"There would be a request from one community to collect five or 10 bodies and when we get there, there are 40," he said, describing aid agencies' response to the crisis as too slow.

US President Barack Obama urged Americans to donate generously to their former Asian colony.

US officials said relief channels were slowly opening up with the reopening of a main road.

Ships and planes from Asia-Pacific nations and Europe are also converging on the Philippines, bearing food, water, medical supplies, tents and other essentials to a population in dire need of the basics of life.

AFP

First Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013, 23:30


comments powered by Disqus