Typhoon relief aid from Israel, US, Australia, Indonesia, Spain enter through Cebu airport | Inquirer News

Typhoon relief aid from Israel, US, Australia, Indonesia, Spain enter through Cebu airport

/ 10:24 AM November 15, 2013

Help continues to arrive.

The US Navy yesterday said its aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, is in the Philippines to join the massive international effort to help victims of supertyphoon “Yolanda,” who are mostly in Eastern Visayas.

It “will go to a position just off the eastern coast of Samar island to  begin to assess the damage and provide logistical and emergency support to include medical and water supplies,” the carrier’s skipper, Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery, said in a statement.


The USS George Washington will expand search-and-rescue operations and provide a platform for helicopters to move supplies.
The USS George Washington is one of eight US ships mobilized by Washington for its own aid effort called Operation Damayan.


Montgomery said cruisers USS Antietam and USS Cowpen would join the aircraft carrier off Samar while the cargo ship USNS Charles Drew was moving water supplies to Guian airfield, also in Samar.

Two ships were bringing emergency supplies to Tacloban while another was focusing on Ormoc.


The aircraft carrier’s arrival is expected to give the relief effort a much-needed boost as more aid from overseas poured in yesterday.

Mactan Cebu International Airport was kept busy yesterday as a steady stream of military and civilian aircraft carrying aid workers, goods and equipment landed at Benito Ebuen Air Base,  the main staging area of relief efforts.

Ambassadors of Spain, Indonesia and Israel were at the air base  to hand over  relief goods and flag off the volunteers sent here from their countries.
Cebu Gov. Hillario Davide III and Israel’s Ambassador to the Philippines Menashe Bar-on was at the base tarmac as 150 doctors and medical and  disaster management personnel from Israel deplaned from a Boeing 747 jet yesterday morning. A freighter aircraft which also landed with relief goods, medical supplies and equipment.

The Israel team will go on a relief and medical mission in northern Cebu, which was among the hardest-hit areas, beginning today.

“We always remember the gesture of the Filipino people who first opened their doors (to Jews) during the holocaust,” the envoy said.

“We express our sympathies to the Filipino people and to the affected families. Our team is here to give what we have during your difficult times,” he added.

The Israelis  set up their base camp at Bogo City.  After  their mission in Cebu, they will be deployed to other areas in Eastern Visayas.

“Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. This is a big help for our brothers and sisters in northern Cebu,” Davide told the Israeli envoy as they shook hands during the symbolic turn over of donations at the air base.

Indonesia’s Ambassador to the Philippines Yohanes Kristiarto Soerye Legowo was also met  at planeside by the governor.  Three  C-130 aircraft from the Indonesian Air Force arrived with  crates of medicine, ready-to-eat food, and tents from the Asean Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance.

“We already gave to the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta  $1 million aid and the same amount of relief goods for the typhoon victims,” he told Cebu Daily News.

The envoy said  Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono earlier sent a letter to President Aquino expressing his condolences for the loss of lives in the calamity.

Spain’s  Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Domecq was also at the Mactan air base to coordinate the arrival of three cargo planes from Spain which were carrying aid supplies for victims in Guian, Eastern Samar. The first aircraft was expected to touch down at 6 p.m. last night. Two others will arrive today.

The ambassador said the medicines were from Queen Sofia of Spain.

Governor  Davide assured the ambassadors that the aid will reach  people affected by the calamity.

“I’m asking for their patience and I will assure them that the people will receive the  relief goods ,” he said.

Every  relief operation going to Northern Cebu is being escorted by the police.

“There are reports that a group of people stopped a  truck and got the relief goods inside. I hope what happened in Eastern Visayas about looting won’t happen in Cebu,” he added.

Air drops
The United Nations is considering air drops  to speed up the delivery of aid in isolated areas within Tacloban City as officials acknowledged the slow pace in bringing assistance to affected areas.

Luiza Carvalho, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines, said she discussed this possibility with local officials during her visit to Tacloban on Wednesday.

“It is possible and we discussed  yesterday with the city authorities of using this disposition within the city itself, so [typhoon victims] don’t need to travel some kilometers away. We should use this system of distribution within the city itself,” said Carvalho.   She said the distribution of relief has become the main problem as “we cannot circulate with trucks” in Tacloban’s debris-strewn road network.

The UN humanitarian chief, Undersecretary-General Valerie Amos, spoke of the frustration of aid workers and even government officials over delays in aid delivery. She cited several factors  such as the debris-clogged roads, bad weather, fuel constraints, lack of communication lines and the virtual lack of local government coordination — apart from the sheer scale of the calamity.

“I think the members of government feel exactly the same way, the mayor (Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez) feels exactly the same. He was speaking to me about the frustration he feels, the basic services he needs to provide his people [and] he has not been able to do it,” said Amos, speaking of how local officials themselves were victims of the calamity.

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“So yes, I do feel we have let people down because we have not been able to get in more quickly. But at the same time, I can see and I was able to see yesterday that our operations are scaling up significantly,” she said in a press conference, on Thursday. /Correspondent Michelle Joy Padayhag with Inquirer and AP reports

TAGS: Calamity

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