Philippines typhoon disaster: Caring for the living, tending to the dead

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Desperation grew among Filipinos who’ve been without electricity or shelter for more than a week since Super Typhoon Haiyan reduced homes to splinters, prompting the military to alter rescue manuevers, an official said Saturday.

“People swarm the helicopters, so we land the helicopters a little bit farther from the population areas,” said Maj. Gen. Romer Poquiz of the Philippine Air Force. “So before the people come in, we would take off, go and drop in other places, drop and then go, drop, go, drop, go, at various places.”

Several countries, including the U.S. military, continued to assist Philippine authorities in a massive relief effort of delivering food and water to the devastated swaths of the archipelago. The central government is being criticized for a slow and disorganized response to what all agree is a catastrophic disaster.

The U.S. military may rotate out the aircraft carrier group with the USS George Washington once amphibious ships arrive, a senior U.S. military official told CNN. Relief efforts were also showing a lot of field hospital capability, the official said.

Meanwhile, military planes and helicopters delivered foodstuffs, and some people carried all that remained of their possessions and were lucky enough to be ferried to refuge in Cebu.

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Royal Navy’s HMS Daring was scheduled to arrive Sunday morning and assist the relief efforts. An disclosed number of British nationals remain unaccounted for, Hague said.

The toll remains overwhelming with thousands dead, about 3 million people displaced, vast communities flattened and looting and violence erupting in Tacloban, a major city that’s the ground zero in the super typhoon strike.

Crews continued Saturday to collect bodies from streets, with the death toll increased to 3,637, according to the official death count.

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