US and Britain scramble to bring relief to Philippines, clean water returning

Posted at 10:44 AM, Nov 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-17 10:25:07-05

By Joe Sterling

(CNN) — The United States and Britain are bolstering their military assets to urgently help millions of hungry and homeless Filipinos — socked, soaked and dazed more than a week after Super Typhoon Haiyan clobbered the midsection of the Philippines.

“Right now, the U.S. military capability is continuing to grow,” U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy told CNN on Sunday. “We need to get life-sustaining aid immediately out to the stricken population. Food, water, shelter, medicine — those are the basics.”

Kennedy said numerous aircraft — such a dozen C-130 cargo airplanes, more than a dozen MV-22 Ospreys and several dozen UH-60 helicopters — are being deployed.

About 9,000 U.S. troops are supporting the operation in the Philippines, a U.S. military official said. U.S. military assets have delivered approximately 623,000 pounds of relief supplies.

The British ship HMS Daring arrived in Cebu on Sunday to provide medical assistance, emergency supplies and clean water to stranded victims, the UK government said.

“HMS Daring’s arrival is a major boost to DFID’s disaster experts and medical teams already deployed in the Philippines,” Britain’s International Development Secretary Justine Greening said. referring to the Department for International Development.

“This Royal Navy vessel will help us open a lifeline and allow us to help many more victims of the disaster,”

The Philippine central government is being criticized for a slow and disorganized response to what all agree is a catastrophic event. The nation’s disaster agency said between 9 million and 13 million people were affected in 44 provinces, 536 municipalities and 55 cities.

The United States and Britain are among nations across the globe racing against time to help Philippine authorities in a massive relief effort of delivering food and water to the devastated swaths of the archipelago.

When the typhoon hit the central part of the country on November 8, many lost their homes and electric power. As the days went by, thousands were scrounging for food, clean water, and medical aid.

Along with more than 3,000 deaths, about 3 million people have been displaced, communities have been flattened and looting and violence have erupted.

Nancy Lindborg, an assistant administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, told CNN on Sunday the United States has been focused “on getting the logistics up, bringing in food, shelter, and getting the water system back on tap.”

She cited a bit of progress in helping the infrastructure in Tacloban, a major city that was ground zero for the typhoon strike.

“Yesterday, we were able to support UNCIEF in bringing the water system back on stream,” she said. “There are now 150,000 people in Tacloban being served by clean water.”

Crews continued to collect bodies from streets, with the official death toll raised Sunday to 3,681.

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