US Carrier Arrives in Philippines Amid Logistics Nightmare

Volunteer surgeons working by flashlight in disaster zone

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 14, 2013 4:58 AM CST | Updated Nov 14, 2013 7:31 AM CST

(Newser) – Help is finally beginning to reach hundreds of thousands of people struggling to survive in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. The USS George Washington and two US cruisers have arrived in the Philippines and will distribute food, water, and medicine, as well as assist search and rescue operations in what the top US commander in the Philippines tells the BBC will be an American aid effort on an unprecedented scale. US planes are bringing in supplies and a medical ship is on the way; Britain is also sending an aircraft carrier, notes the BBC. In other developments:

  • Supplies from the US and other countries are arriving, but some areas are still in desperate need of relief and "the major challenge is logistics," a European Commission spokesman tells the LA Times. "With all this aid arriving and at the same time, the various Philippine authorities—military, civilian structures, the Philippine Red Cross—trying to distribute aid to so many communities ... obviously there are bottlenecks."

  • Lawlessness in the devastated city of Tacloban is also slowing the distribution of aid, the Guardian finds. A Red Cross convoy was allegedly hijacked by armed men and there are rumors that inmates who escaped during the storm have been ambushing people carrying supplies. Communist rebels have declared a ceasefire in disaster areas, but troops say there has been at least one attack.
  • Some 2,357 people have been confirmed dead, but the toll is expected to rise significantly as remote areas hit hard by the storm are reached. In Tacloban, where bodies are being trucked to mass graves, the city administrator says he is sticking by his original estimate of 10,000 dead in the city alone.
  • In a smaller city south of Tacloban, the devastation is even worse and a 16-member medical team from California is laboring in extreme conditions to help survivors, NBC finds. The volunteer surgeons—working by flashlight in Tanawan's ruined town hall—believe the region will need help for months. "I don’t know when or how we are going to be able to leave," one doctor says. "This is just the beginning of a wave of misery."
  • USA Today has more on that front: The few doctors in Manila are already overwhelmed with hundreds of patients—and those are mostly minor injuries. They're soon expecting to see big problems like pneumonia, diarrhea, infections, and dehydration. And the New York Times looks at a hospital in Tacloban that has no power, where victims lay waiting for care. Food, water, and medical supplies are short; one patient interviewed by the Times says he has not received painkillers, antibiotics, or even an antiseptic for his wounds.

Sailors  remove equipment from a  helicopter  aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington to make room for transport of cargo and personnel.
Sailors remove equipment from a helicopter aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington to make room for transport of cargo and personnel.   (AP Photo/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paolo Bayas)
Signs for help, water and food are written in the street amid the destruction left from Typhoon Haiyan in the coastal town of Tanawan, central Philippines.
Signs for help, water and food are written in the street amid the destruction left from Typhoon Haiyan in the coastal town of Tanawan, central Philippines.   (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
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