Typhoon Haiyan: Aid reaches remote areas

Helicopters finally get supplies to Philippines villages laid to waste by Typhoon Haiyan.

Tacloban survivors are evacuated on a US military plane, but millions more are yet to find any shelter. Photo / AP
Tacloban survivors are evacuated on a US military plane, but millions more are yet to find any shelter. Photo / AP

Helicopters have dropped emergency supplies to desperate villagers as a growing global relief effort following the Philippines typhoon pushes beyond devastated towns and cities towards remote island and mountain communities.

On the tiny island of Homonhon, which suffered a direct hit from Typhoon Haiyan, residents of what was left of their shattered village waited patiently as US troops unloaded water supplies from a helicopter that flew in off the aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

The flight to the village gave an aerial view of the scale of destruction on the island, where thick coconut groves were torn up and flattened.

The helicopter stayed just 10 minutes before flying off with promises to return with rice supplies.

The USS George Washington has galvanised the huge international relief effort in the central Philippines since it arrived in the region on Thursday. Its main task has been airlifting large-volume supplies to inland airstrips and then ferrying them by helicopter to more remote areas.

Ten days after the super-storm hit the central islands of Leyte and Samar, aid agencies and humanitarian groups have firmly established operational posts in the flattened region's largest city, Tacloban. There is still no regular power in Tacloban, but aid distribution centres have been set up ensuring a steady flow of food and water to still-traumatised residents, while mobile surgical units are providing emergency care for the sick and injured.

But the overall situation remains critical, the United Nations estimating up to four million people have been displaced, of which 350,000 have found shelter in evacuation centres.

The official death toll stands at 3976 with 1598 people missing. The UN said an estimated 2.5 million people needed food assistance.

The Red Cross said it had started distributing aid to residents of Guiuan, Mercedes and Salcedo - shoreline communities in southeastern Samar that were laid to waste by Typhoon Haiyan.

Two Japanese warships, carrying some 650 troops, left the western port of Kure to the Philippines.

The two vessels, also carrying six helicopters, are scheduled to arrive on Friday.

Japan is also sending a total of 10 planes. The total troop deployment was expected to rise to almost 1200 in all - the largest single relief operation team ever sent abroad by Japan's defence forces.

- AFP

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