Washington (AFP) – The United States has sent an additional 90 troops to the storm-ravaged Philippines for humanitarian assistance efforts, the Marine Corps said Monday.
Four MV-22B Ospreys — aircraft that can operate in difficult environments — and three KC-130J Hercules planes headed to the disaster zones from Japan, according to a statement.
On board were some 90 marines and sailors tasked with helping a humanitarian assistance survey team on the ground in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which may have killed as many as 10,000 people when it flattened entire towns just days ago.
About 90 marines and sailors were already in the crisis-stricken country for an assistance evaluation mission.
U.S. Marines who arrived in the city of Tacoblan earlier Monday to deliver emergency supplies expressed shock at the devastation.
“Everything’s destroyed,” said Brigadier General Paul Kennedy, the commanding general of the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. government was “organizing emergency shipments of critically needed material to provide shelter to the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos driven from their homes,” in addition to food and hygiene supplies.
The top diplomat also said the State Department was working with the NGO Team Rubicon to deploy a group of veterans to the region.
“I want to assure the people of the Philippines and the many Americans of Filipino heritage that we are working as hard as possible to provide essential assistance to help the Philippine people and their government recover from this tragedy,” Kerry said.
Since 1990, the U.S. government has responded to more than 40 disasters in the Philippines, according to the Pentagon.