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UN to launch major aid appeal for battered Philippines
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Nov 12, 2013

US carrier group to make "best speed" to typhoon-hit Philippines
Hong Kong (AFP) Nov 12, 2013 - A US aircraft carrier and supporting ships hastily sailed from Hong Kong on Tuesday as part of an international effort to save famished survivors in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines.

The carrier group led by the USS George Washington and its 7,000 sailors will "make best speed" to the devastated areas, said a captain of one of the ships, as fears mount for survivors scrabbling for basic necessities.

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 Captain Tom Disy, whose ship the USS Antietam was moored next to one of Hong Kong's major shopping malls.

The carrier group arrived in Hong Kong late last week on a routine rest and recreation port visit and was originally scheduled to depart on Wednesday.

But sailors had be recalled from shore leave within 24 hours before the ships left at 1pm Tuesday.

"Our sympathies are strongly with the people of the Philippines and we will take it as it comes," Disy said.

The carier group will join US Marines already deployed to the Philippines. An advance guard of 90 Marines arrived in the devastated city of Tacloban Monday.

Hong Kong is a regular shore leave destination for the US Navy.

The United Nations was Tuesday poised to appeal for hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid for the tyhoon-ravaged Philippines, as a massive international relief effort began to build momentum.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos is in Manila to launch a "flash appeal" for cash, while the US and Britain deployed warships carrying thousands of soldiers to assist in a vast operation to help nearly 10 million people affected by Friday's super typhoon.

After famished survivors ransacked aid convoys, Philippines authorities deployed armoured vehicles and set up checkpoints in the devastated city of Tacloban Tuesday to stop desperate victims raiding food and medical supplies.

Almost 10 percent of the Philippines' population have been affected after Super Typhoon Haiyan smashed into the nation's central islands, leaving at least 10,000 people feared dead while 660,000 have lost their homes, according to the UN.

The Pentagon said the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, with 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft aboard, will head to the United States' close Asian ally from Hong Kong to join 180 US Marines assisting in the humanitarian efforts on the ground.

Britain boosted its aid to 10 million pounds as Prime Minister David Cameron said HMS Daring, a destroyer, would sail to the Philippines "at full speed" from its current deployment in Singapore, joined by a Royal Air Force C-17 transport plane.

Dead bodies still litter the wreckage across devastated communities in the central islands, with whole districts of coastal towns reduced to piles of splintered wood.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the aid effort "must expand urgently in the days ahead", while the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement appealed for nearly $95 million to provide 100,000 families with food, water and shelter over 18 months.

As the global effort mobilised, friends and foes alike among the Philippines' neighbours offered assistance, with Taiwan and China promising to put aside their differences to join in the relief effort.

The Australian government pledged Aus$10 million ($9.38 million) in relief, with a team of medics set to leave Wednesday to join disaster experts already on the ground.

Tokyo said it would supply $10 million in grants to provide evacuees with emergency shelters and other assistance, as reports said Japan could be readying to dispatch its self defense forces to help in the relief effort.

About 100 Japanese citizens in the Philippines are still unaccounted for after the typhoon.

Indonesia, another Southeast Asian nation frequently hit by natural disasters, pledged $2 million in cash and emergency supplies, with a Hercules aircraft set to depart Wednesday carrying food, medicines, water filters and generators.

China, where seven people were reported killed by the typhoon, is to give $100,000 towards the aid effort, with state-run Global Times newspaper saying Tuesday that a territorial row between China and the Philippines should not affect such decisions.

"It's a must to aid typhoon victims in the Philippines," the paper, which is close to the ruling Communist party, said in an editorial. "China's international image is of vital importance to its interests. If it snubs Manila this time, China will suffer great losses", it added.

And despite a diplomatic row triggered by the fatal shooting of a 65-year-old crew member of a Taiwanese fishing boat on May 9 by a Filipino coastguard patrol, Taiwan sent two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft carrying relief goods and pledged $200,000 in cash.

Vietnam, itself faced with mass evacuations as a weakened Haiyan swung through its territory Monday, has offered aid worth $100,000 and vowed to stand by the Philippine people.

The Philippine Red Cross on Tuesday issued a heartfelt thanks for the international support directed at the country.

"We can only say that we love you for all the things you have done for us and are doing for us," Corazon Alma G. De Leon, secretary of the board of governors told a press conference in Sydney.

Other aid mobilised includes:

-- South Korea approved five million dollars in emergency aid and dispatched a 40-member team including medical personnel and rescuers to Tacloban, its foreign ministry said. Samsung Group donated one million dollars through international aid groups.

-- The European Commission said it would give three million euros ($4 million) toward relief efforts.

-- Germany's embassy in Manila said an initial shipment of 23 tonnes of aid was being flown in and German rescue teams were already at work.

-- Japan is sending a disaster relief and medical team of 25 people, while Malaysia also readied a relief crew and Singapore offered cash aid.

-- New Zealand increased its humanitarian relief to NZ$2.15 million ($1.78 million), while Canada has promised up to $5 million to aid organisations.

-- UN children's fund UNICEF sent a cargo plane carrying 60 tonnes of aid including shelters and medical kits while refugee agency UNHCR organised an airlift.

-- The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management will send an initial $500,000 in aid from Subang, Malaysia.

-- Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said it was sending 200 tonnes of aid including medicine, tents and hygiene kits to arrive mid-week.


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Curfew, armoured vehicles for typhoon-hit Philippine town
Tacloban, Philippines (AFP) Nov 12, 2013
The Philippine government said Tuesday it had deployed armoured vehicles, set up checkpoints and imposed a curfew to help end looting in a city devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan. Tacloban - on the central island of Leyte - bore the brunt of Friday's category-five storm with at least 10,000 people feared to have died there, according to the United Nations. The devastated provincial cap ... read more

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