Philippines declares state of calamity

President declares emergency measures as aid trickles in for millions of people worst affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

    A national state of calamity has been declared in the Phillipines as the country reels from the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan, with an expected death toll expected to reach tens of thousands.

    The president, Benigno Aquino, on Monday declared emergency measures to get aid to the many millions of people left destitute by the superstorm, and promised them that "help will reach you faster and faster".

    "My appeal to you all is: remaining calm, praying, co-operating with, and assisting one another are the things that will help us to rise from this calamity," he said in a televised address.

    An international relief effort began in earnest on Monday, with a host of countries and organisations including the US, the EU, New Zealand and Australia pledging relief to the Philippines.

    The US said it was providing $20m in humanitarian aid as well as additional troops to help out in relief efforts.

    The aircraft carrier USS George Washington and other American ships have been ordered to head to the typhoon-stricken Philippines, the Pentagon said on Monday.

    The carrier, which has 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft aboard, is expected to be under way later this evening, the Pentagon said in a statement.

    The Philippine military confirmed 942 dead, but shattered communications, transportation links and local governments suggest the final toll is days away.

    The worst hit area, Tacloban, was all but flattened by the typhoon's 300km an hour winds and storm surge, with only some concrete buildings left standing. 

    The UN humanitarian chief says 10,000 people are feared dead in the city of Tacloban alone.

    Philippine soldiers were distributing food and water in Tacloban, and assessment teams from the UN and other international agencies were seen for the first time.

    The US military dispatched food, water, generators and a contingent of marines to the city, the first outside help in what will swell into a major international relief mission.

    "I don't believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way - every single building, every single house,'' said US Marine Brigadier General Paul Kennedy after taking a helicopter flight over the city.

    Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from Tacloban, said the city was in disarray.

    He reported that the military was arriving at the destroyed Tacloban airport and bringing some supplies, but that it was "clearly still not enough".

    Authorities have said at least 9.7 million people in 41 provinces were affected by the typhoon.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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