Philippine, U.S. Troops Battle Killer Super Typhoon

Militaries rush relief after thousands die in historic storm

Philippine, U.S. Troops Battle Killer Super Typhoon Philippine, U.S. Troops Battle Killer Super Typhoon

Uncategorized November 10, 2013 0

Typhoon Yolanda. NASA photo Philippine, U.S. Troops Battle Killer Super Typhoon Militaries rush relief after thousands die in historic storm One of the most... Philippine, U.S. Troops Battle Killer Super Typhoon
Typhoon Yolanda. NASA photo

Philippine, U.S. Troops Battle Killer Super Typhoon

Militaries rush relief after thousands die in historic storm

One of the most powerful storms ever recorded struck the central Philippines on Friday, killing thousands in one hard-hit city and laying waste to communities across the breadth of the archipelago nation.

“All systems are down,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said. “There is no power, no water, nothing. People are desperate. They’re looting.”

The Philippine military and its American allies are mobilizing to rescue survivors and begin restoring vital services. The operations could resemble military moves in the wage of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as well as relief missions in Haiti in 2010.

Super Typhoon Yolanda, as the storm is known in The Philippines, struck the islands of Samar and Leyte from east to west, winds gusting up to 170 miles per hour, a storm surge burying the city of Tacolan on Samar in water and debris as high as 13 feet. City administrator Tecson John S. Lim said he believed up to 10,000 of Tacolan’s 220,000 residents have died.

Impoverished, deforested and badly governed, The Philippines was unprepared for Typhoon Yolanda. But beginning in the hours before the storm hit, Manila’s military forces did what they could.

The air force put three C-130 transports and 32 helicopters on standby. Twenty navy vessels were also mobilized. The navy had only recently deployed 13 vessels to help out in the aftermath of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that shook the Central Visayas region in mid-October.

The Philippine army on Thursday sent a seven-man team to Samar with an MLX4 loudspeaker, which runs on a 12-volt battery can, to tell residents to evacuate.

As the winds died down, the army rushed to set up emergency communications centers in afflicted areas. At first, equipment was in short supply in the western province of Iloilo. “We did our best to obtain a Harris Manpack radio to be augmented by one URC-187 radio as alternate and these equipment are already on the way,” said Lt. Col. Vener Morga.

Tacolan’s airport was badly damaged. Air force UH-1 helicopters were photographed flying from the airport, and by Saturday the runway was clear enough to allow C-130s to haul in generators and radios, among other equipment. The army set up its comms center in the Tacolan police station.

A U.S. Navy dentist operates on a Filipino during a humanitarian mission in October. Navy photo

Helping hands

Washington offered Manila its own troops to aid in the relief. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear III, the head of Pacific Command.

“The support, provided at the request of the Philippines government, will initially focus on surface maritime search and rescue, medium-heavy helicopter lift support, airborne maritime SAR, fixed-wing lift support and logistics enablers,” according to a Pentagon release.

An expeditionary unit of some 2,000 Marines is already in the Pacific aboard Navy ships. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have significant forces in Japan and Australia. After the 2004 tsunami and again in Haiti, the Navy sent one of its two giant hospital ships.

American sailors and Marines were in The Philippines in early October for a training exercise and to hand out humanitarian aid.

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