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U.S. Sends Carrier To Aid Philippines

The U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier "USS George Washington"

The U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier "USS George Washington"

The United States has announced that it is sending an aircraft carrier and $20 million in emergency humanitarian aid to the Philippines, where there are fears more than 10,000 people have died from Typhoon Haiyan.

Officials said the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier "U.S.S. George Washington" was ordered to depart Hong Kong, where it had been visiting, and join relief efforts.

The ship, with some 5,000 sailors and 80 aircraft, will be accompanied by five other U.S. ships to provide humanitarian assistance, supplies, and medical care.

The Pentagon said the carrier was expected to arrive in the disaster zone in 48 to 72 hours.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (US AID) meanwhile has announced it will provide $20 million in relief, including food, shelter, and sanitation kits.

Elsewhere, Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain was sending a Royal Navy warship and donating some $16 million worth of aid to the typhoon’s victims.

The United States and Britain are just two of dozens of countries and organizations that have pledged tens of millions of dollars in aid since the typhoon devastated large swaths of the Southeast Asian island nation on November 8.

The United Nations has estimated that about 660,000 Filipinos were displaced by the typhoon.

"There are an estimated 660,000 people that have been displaced by this typhoon, and now all of our efforts are of course on mobilizing very quickly, and on a huge scale, a response," John Ging, director of the Operational Division at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters, citing an estimate that has also been reported by the United Nations.

Ging said an immediate priority is to help bury the thousands of dead to prevent a public health problem.

He added that officials were preparing for "the worst," saying: "As we get more and more access, we find the tragedy of more and more people killed in this typhoon."

The UN’s humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, was expected on November 12 to visit the Philippines to formally launch an emergency appeal for global aid. The UN has already released $25 million in emergency funds.

Much of the relief operation is focusing on Tacloban on Leyte island. Reports say most of the city is now in ruins after it was overwhelmed by the massive winds and tsunami-like sea surges caused by the typhoon.

Reports have spoken of desperate Tacloban residents raiding abandoned homes and businesses to obtain food and other goods.

Thousands of Tacloban residents have thronged the airport there, seeking to leave the devastated area.

"We're still surviving, even though it's pretty hard in here," one young resident, who gave her name as Maridoll, said. "Everything is gone, our houses, everything. There's nothing to eat, there's nothing to drink."

Officials have estimated that a total of around 9.8 million Filipinos in 41 provinces have been affected by the typhoon. .

Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AFP