First mass grave is quickly filled

Re­spon­ders make lim­ited progress as aid starts to reach sur­vivors

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY OLIVER TEVES KRIS­TEN GE­LIN­EAU

TA­CLOBAN, PHILIP­PINES | The air was thick with the stench of de­cay as sweat­ing work­ers low­ered the plas­tic coffins one by one into a grave the size of an Olympic swim­ming pool.

Scores of uniden­ti­fied bod­ies were in­terred to­gether Thurs­day in a hill­side ceme­tery with­out any rit­ual — the first mass burial in this city shat­tered last week by Typhoon Haiyan.

Six days af­ter the dis­as­ter, some progress was be­ing made in pro­vid­ing food, wa­ter and med­i­cal aid to the half-mil­lion peo­ple dis­placed in the Philip­pines.

Mas­sive bot­tle­necks block­ing the dis­tri­bu­tion of in­ter­na­tional as­sis­tance have be­gun to clear.

Sol­diers on trucks gave out rice and wa­ter, and chain­saw-wield­ing teams cut de­bris from blocked roads to clear the way for relief trucks in Ta­cloban, the cap­i­tal of the hard­est-hit Leyte prov­ince.

Thou­sands of peo­ple con­tin­ued to swarm Ta­cloban’s dam­aged air­port, des­per­ate to leave or to get treat­ment at a makeshift med­i­cal center.

“We know the grav­ity of our coun­try­men’s suf­fer­ing, and we know that, now more than ever, all of us are called on to do what­ever we can to help al­le­vi­ate our coun­try­men’s suf­fer­ing,” Pres­i­dent Benigno S. Aquino III said.

Au­thor­i­ties say 2,357 peo­ple have been con­firmed dead.

That fig­ure is ex­pected to rise when more data are col­lected around the dis­as­ter zone.

The mas­sive flow of in­ter­na­tional aid was bol­stered by Thurs­day’s ar­rival of the USS Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton in the Philip­pine Sea near the Gulf of Leyte. The air­craft car­rier will set up a po­si­tion off the coast of Sa­mar Is­land to as­sess the dam­age and pro­vide med­i­cal and wa­ter sup­plies, the 7th Fleet said.

The car­rier and its strike group to­gether brought 21 he­li­copters to the area, which can help reach the most in­ac­ces­si­ble parts of the dis­as­ter zone.

The United King­dom also is send­ing an air­craft car­rier, the HMS Il­lus­tri­ous, with seven he­li­copters and fa­cil­i­ties to pro­duce fresh wa­ter, Bri­tain’s De­fense Min­istry said. The ship is ex­pected to reach the area around Nov. 25.

The U.S. has a half-dozen other ships in the area, along with two P-3 air­craft that are be­ing used to sur­vey the dam­age, the 7th Fleet said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHS

Typhoon Haiyan sur­vivors walk amid ru­ins of build­ings in Maraboth, Philip­pines, on Thurs­day. The storm, one of the most pow­er­ful on record, de­stroyed tens of thou­sands of build­ings and dis­placed hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple when it hit last week.

In this photo pro­vided by the U.S. Navy, sailors pre­pare a trans­port air­craft on the deck of the USS Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton.

Sur­vivors line up for fuel in Ta­cloban. Aid has been slow to reach the half-mil­lion peo­ple dis­placed by Typhoon Haiyan.

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