- 10,000 feared dead in Philippines typhoon
- Sydney-based Filipinos rush to assist
- Australian whistleblower among the victims
Countries and organisations around the world are scrambling aid to the Philippines as the devastation wreaked by Super Typhoon Haiyan becomes clearer.
US military help was on its way, after the Pentagon said Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel was responding to a request from Manila for assistance. It included search-and-rescue ships and transport aircraft deployed from the US’ Pacific deployments. UN leader Ban Ki-moon promised UN humanitarian agencies would “respond rapidly to help people in need”.
The UN children’s fund UNICEF says a cargo plane carrying 60 tonnes of aid including shelters and medicine will arrive in the Philippines on Tuesday, to be followed by deliveries of water purification and sanitation equipment.
The European Commission says it will give $US4 million ($A4.2 million) to help in relief efforts.
Australia digs deep
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the Australian Government will contribute $10 million in aid, which will include $390,500 of emergency supplies previously announced by Ms Bishop on Saturday.
“I have approved a $10 million package of humanitarian assistance. This comprises the urgent deployment of an Australian medical assistance team – at a cost of about $1 million, $3 million to be deployed through Australian non-government organisations, $4 million to the United Nations flash appeal,” she said.
“[We will also contribute] $1 million for additional food items and non-food items, which includes the funding already announced – so tarps, mosquito nets, water containers and the like, and $1 million to the Red Cross to assist in their disaster response efforts.”
When questioned about the size of the donation, the Foreign Minister defended the $10 million figure calling it a “substantial package”, but left the door open for more aid in the coming days.
Britain offered another emergency support package worth $US9.6 million. Germany’s embassy in Manila said an initial shipment of 23 tonnes of aid was being flown in and German rescue teams were already at work.
Pope Francis, “deeply saddened” by the disaster, on Sunday urged Catholics to provide “concrete help” and led 60,000 people in prayers for the Philippines.
“Sadly, there are many, many victims and the damage is huge,” he said. On Saturday, he had tweeted his sympathy to the Asian nation.
Other aid mobilised included:
- New Zealand and Australia donating an immediate $US490,000, with further support when the devastation is better assessed
- Mdecins Sans Frontires (Doctors Without Borders) says it is sending 200 tonnes of aid – medicine, tents, hygiene kits – to arrive mid-week, with a first cargo plane leaving from Dubai on Monday and another from Belgium on Tuesday
- Up to $US5 million promised by Canada to humanitarian organisations trying to help survivors in the Philippines
- Oxfam, the British-based relief group, said it has sent an assessment team ahead of aid operations
The immensely powerful Super Typhoon Haiyan struck Friday and was the worst natural disaster ever to hit the Philippines. Stunned authorities there say the death toll could be well over 10,000.
The country’s officials seemed overwhelmed by the scale of the death and destruction.
Looters were reportedly turning violent, security was lacking, drinking water and food were scarce, the stench of corpses was heavy, and shelter was needed.
The typhoon was on Sunday headed for Vietnam, prompting the evacuation of 600,000 people.