Philippine authorities have said that 2,357 people have been confirmed dead, but the U.N. says the death toll is likely to be 4,460 in statements by both Thursday evening in the Philippines.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have arrived in the Philippines and promptly began working with the Philippine army in disaster relief and emergency medical care. The United States sent the USS George Washington aircraft carrier and a Marine detachment to the stricken area of Tacloban, where Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the island nation six days ago. The U.K. has also dispatched the HMS Illustrious to the Philippines to assist with relief efforts and is carry much-needed food, water, and medicine.
Between the British arrival of the HMS Illustrious and the USS George Washington, there are roughly 29 heavy lift specialized helicopters capable of transporting people or loads and reaching remote areas still cut off. Addition ships that are part of the USS George Washington strike group are also in the area providing additional relief efforts.
With the arrival of the U.S. military, aid has begun flowing to hard-hit areas still cut off and search, and recovery efforts have increased, helping the overstretched Philippine authorities. A considerable amount of international aid is being funneled through the USS George Washington because it is the only large-scale logistical asset on scene capable of handling such duties.
The initial estimate of 10,000 dead have since lowered, but there is no official estimate. Thousands of people continue to crowd Tacloban airport with lines stretching a mile long, desperate to get out of town and to Manilla, which was not hit.
Necessities like water, food, and emergency medical care have been lacking, and officials estimate more will die in the second wave of deaths after drinking contaminated water, the only thing they had to drink. With the arrival of a pre-positioned supply ship operated by the U.S. Navy and the HMS Illustrious, large-scale aid supplies are now on scene said a Defense Department spokesperson.
Olympic swimming pool sized mass graves, like the one above, have started taking in hundreds at each grave site for a final resting place of those who died and no family either survived or is around to identify and claim the body.
“We know the gravity of our countrymen’s suffering, and we know that now more than ever, all of us are called on to do whatever we can to help alleviate our countrymen’s suffering,” President Benigno S. Aquino III said in a statement.