Spearheaded by an American aircraft carrier group, foreign relief efforts have stepped up a gear in the storm-devastated Philippines eight days after Super Typhoon Yolanda left thousands dead and millions homeless.
Ships and planes from Asia-Pacific nations and Europe have converged on the belt of islands hardest hit by the typhoon, one of strongest storms to ever make landfall.
The air and sea-lift has also brought in emergency medical and shelter supplies from global humanitarian groups who have warned of the dangers facing remote, hard-to-access communities.
The United States (US) is by far the greatest contributor to the effort, spearheaded by the giant USS George Washington.
Below is a breakdown of the international aid being offered:
— In addition to the delivery of relief supplies, US military aircraft have logged nearly 480 flight hours in 186 aircraft sorties, moved nearly 1,200 relief workers into hard-hit Tacloban city and airlifted nearly 2,900 displaced people from the affected areas to date.
— Over the last 24 hours, more than 118 tons of food, water and shelter items have been delivered to Tacloban, Borongan and Guiuan, the US military said.
— More than 600 US military personnel are currently on the ground in the Philippines, with 6,200 sailors supporting air operations from the USS George Washington strike group. An additional 1,000 Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are expected to arrive in approximately five days.
— Eight American MV-22 Ospreys — rotor planes that can take off and land like helicopters — are currently in operation, and eight more are being deployed.
— In other contributions, Britain is sending its largest naval ship, the helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious. Also from Britain, heavy transport planes carrying equipment such as 4X4 vehicles and forklift trucks have already arrived.
— British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Saturday that Britain was providing a further $48 million to help the relief effort, on top of $37 million already pledged.
— The United Nations, which had launched an appeal for $301 million dollars in relief funding, said Friday it had so far received $72 million.
— Japan has tripled its emergency aid package to more than $30 million and is preparing to send up to 1,000 troops, in what would be the country’s biggest foreign deployment since World War II.
— The European Union upped its contribution by $7.0 million on Saturday to $20 million.
— Australia has provided three C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, and the amphibious landing vessel HMAS Tobruk.
— Other C-130s — a warhorse of relief operations the world over — are being deployed by countries including India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan and Thailand, as well as by UN agencies and private charities.
As thousands queue to leave the devastation wreaked by the typhoon, a stream of passengers carrying food, medicine and water comes the other way, desperate to help family stuck in the medieval horror of the disaster zone.
Some have travelled half way around the world to rescue parents or siblings, while others scraped together all they could from poorly-paid jobs in Manila, begging and borrowing from friends.
“That’s my village,” sobbed Nick Cantuja, pointing to the shoreline as her ferry docked in the smashed city of Ormoc. “Our house is gone now. Everything… it’s gone,” she told AFP.