Philippines typhoon: President pledge over Leyte

US military load relief supplies into a helicopter. Picture: Getty
US military load relief supplies into a helicopter. Picture: Getty
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PHILIPPINES president Benigno Aquino III yesterday pledged to stay in typhoon-battered Leyte province until he sees more progress in the aid effort, following complaints from survivors that they have yet to receive proper help.

Mr Aquino is expected to set up camp in Tacloban, the capital of hardest-hit Leyte province, but it is not clear where he will find suitable accommodation amid the ruins.

Virtually every building in the city was damaged or destroyed by the 8 November Typhoon Haiyan, which killed 3,974 people, according an official count released yesterday. The storm left about 1,200 people missing.

British warship HMS Daring arrived at the crisis zone yesterday as part of the UK’s emergency response. The Type 45 destroyer and her crew docked at the island of Cebu ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the areas devastated by the disaster, the Department for International Aid and Development said. It has spent the last three days carrying out reconnaissance work in and around the Philippines, using a Lynx helicopter to survey the areas that have not yet been reached by international relief teams. The helicopter will now be used to fly shelter kits, food and medical supplies to those remote areas.

Members of the 12-strong medical team from the UK, which arrived in the Philippines earlier this week, will also be flown to different areas to treat injured victims of the typhoon.

Charity Save the Children said a barge carrying more than 25 tonnes of aid items and essential household kits is also expected to reach the Asian nation this afternoon.

Today, a British Airways jet will depart the UK after offering aid agencies, including Oxfam, Save the Children and Unicef, the aircraft to fly emergency aid and supplies to the disaster zone.

A number of Britons are missing following Typhoon Haiyan, Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed on Saturday.

Yesterday, Mr Aquino said that while there has been some progress in the aid effort, it is not enough. “We really want to ease the burden on everybody as soon as possible. As long as I don’t see any more improvements, we’ll stay here,” he said, referring to himself and his official team.

Electricity is available only in small pockets through diesel generators. There is no running water and people must manage with water supplied by tankers, but many do not even have that.

This is not the first time Mr Aquino has taken a hands-on 
approach to a crisis. Last month, the 53-year-old slept overnight in an army tent to reassure jittery residents of a central town that was devastated by a magnitude-7.3 earthquake.