A U.S. aircraft carrier has arrived off the coast of the Philippine island of Leyte, the region hardest hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan, carrying humanitarian aid and a crew of 5,000 sailors to help with the task of delivering supplies and providing security.
The USS George Washington consists of 80 planes for distributing food, water and medicine to remote areas of the island where little international aid has arrived nearly a week after the devastating typhoon lashed the central Philippines.
"The Philippine government has done what it could and now the help has to come from elsewhere. The city is completely devastated," Action Against Hunger spokesman Daniel Burgui told Efe from the eastern city of Tacloban.
Before the warship moored, U.S. Navy personnel unloaded thousands of sacks of rice and other foodstuffs from several Black Hawk helicopters that were transported by the aircraft carrier.
Military officials said the arrival of the USS George Washington would give a big boost to relief efforts and help reduce the scarcity of food and water by tripling the number of available helicopters in the area.
The United Nations on Thursday urged local authorities and international organizations to speed up the delivery of aid and alleviate the desperation of thousands of typhoon victims, particularly in Tacloban.
Tons of sacks of food have piled up at that city's airport, which is being heavily guarded by the authorities, due to a lack of resources and qualified personnel to distribute the supplies.
Several roads in the region remain blocked by debris, impeding access to some of Leyte's small towns.
The Philippines' National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Thursday raised its provisional death toll from Haiyan to 2,357.
That agency also says 3,853 people were injured by the typhoon, which was packing maximum sustained winds of over 240 kph (150 mph) when it hit the Philippines last Friday.
Authorities expect the death toll will continue to rise in the coming hours as rescue teams reach more remote areas, saying the number of fatalities could approach the United Nations' estimate of 10,000. EFE