Massive aid effort for Phil’s typhoon victims in high gear

A global relief effort is under way in the Philippines where President Benigno Aquino has declared a “state of national calamity” after super-typhoon Haiyan, one of the world’s deadliest typhoons devastated communities in the central Philippines leaving as many as 10,000 dead.

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International aid donations from countries, individuals and humanitarian agencies are rapidly building as rescue workers from around the world rush to the Philippines after the year’s most powerful typhoon – and perhaps the most powerful in recorded history – flattened buildings and unleashed storm surges that ravaged communities.

The United Nations, the International Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies have “quickly ramped up critical relief operations to help families in desperate need,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement Monday. “While many communities are very difficult to reach, with roads, airports and bridges destroyed or blocked with debris, agencies have begun airlifting food, health, shelter, medical and other life-saving supplies.”

 The UN World Food Programme, the largest humanitarian organisation in the world, estimates 2.5 million people will require emergency assistance. “This is destruction on a massive scale,” Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, head of the UN Disaster Assessment Coordination Team, said in a statement. The daunting relief effort had barely begun on Monday, as bloated bodies lay uncollected and uncounted in the streets and increasingly desperate survivors pleaded for food, water and medicine.

The US has nearly 100 Marines and sailors already on the ground and the US is also sending an aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, to the Philippines, in a move that could further scale up air operations at a time when ground teams are struggling to reach areas where roads are impassable and bridges destroyed. Similarly the UK said it would send a Royal Navy warship capable of purifying seawater.