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UN admits it was slow to help typhoon victims

AFP
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A soldier shields the face of a child as an aircraft takes off from the destroyed airport where many people are waiting for evacuation after super typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, central Philippines.photo:reuters
A soldier shields the face of a child as an aircraft takes off from the destroyed airport where many people are waiting for evacuation after super typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, central Philippines.photo:reuters

The United States said relief channels were belatedly opening up to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines on Thursday as the UN admitted it had not acted quickly enough to help survivors.

While President Barack Obama urged Americans to dig deep and other countries upped their aid, the UN's humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said the scale of the disaster and the logistical challenges meant that six days on from the storm, some places remained without help. "I very much hope that over the next 48 hours that that will change significantly," she told reporters in Manila. "I do feel that we have let people down."

After criticism at home and abroad of China's initial offer of a $100,000 cash donation, the Chinese embassy in the Philippines said Beijing will provide an additional 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) for relief efforts in the form of blankets, tents and other materials.

Transport planes, helicopters, ships and medics are in operation or coming from an array of countries in the Asia-Pacific and Europe, with Australia now taking its total aid contribution to Aus$30 million (US$28 million).

On the ground in the shattered city of Tacloban and around the central Philippines, survivors are desperately pleading for the basics of life from food and water to clothes and medicines - and security to protect them from mobs pilfering what little aid is getting through.

U.S. officials said the aid operation was slowly getting into gear after daunting challenges posed by shattered ports, roads and communication infrastructure.

The USS George Washington carrier plus two cruisers and a destroyer are due to arrive in America's former Asian possession later on Thursday, and Washington has committed $20 million - roughly half for food and the rest to prevent diseases six days after Super Typhoon Haiyan struck.

The giant aircraft carrier, carrying 5,000 sailors will bring the capacity to desalinate large volumes of water.AFP


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