(PHOTO Courtesy of Reuters)
Finally the US soldiers are here extending relief assistance to victims of typhoon Frank in the central Philippines. US soldiers brought in water, rice and medicines.
Over 1.4 million people were evacuated from their homes and are surviving only on relief goods. USS Ronald Reagan, (nuclear-powered U.S aircraft carrier) is here to conduct relief mission.
Military choppers from the aircraft carrier are helping in the relief efforts transporting supplies, and scouring the seas around the ill fated Princess of the Stars for recovery operations.
US soldiers join typhoon relief effort
By ROMEO RANOCO
SIBUYAN ISLAND – U.S. soldiers shuttled water, rice and medicine to typhoon-ravaged islands in the central Philippines on Thursday as the search for hundreds of bodies from a capsized ferry continued.
Helicopters from the USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier that cut short a visit to Hong Kong to help relief efforts, transported supplies and scoured the seas around the Princess of the Stars, which went belly up with 865 people on board during Typhoon Frank (international name: Fengshen) on Saturday.
The overall death toll from the sixth typhoon to hit the Philippines this storm season could top 1,300, while over 1.4 million people have been forced to evacuate their homes and are reliant on handouts to survive.
Rescue efforts have been focused on the Princess of the Stars off central Sibuyan island. U.S. and Philippine navy divers have been combing the seven-storey vessel, where hundreds of corpses are feared trapped.
“They brought 10 bodies up from the first class cabins yesterday. We don’t have any identification yet. Some were wearing life vests, some weren’t,” said Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo, coast guard spokesman.
Corpses bobbing in water
Dozens of corpses have been found bobbing in the waters around the central Philippines and have also washed up on beaches but with at least 9 other vessels sunk in Saturday’s typhoon, disaster officials are having trouble identifying where they came from.
Retrieval operations from the Princess of the Stars have also been painstaking because of the ferry’s position, wedged on a reef, and officials said they were again considering boring a hole in its side to speed things up.
Professional divers from the western island of Coron, famed for its wreck dives, have offered their services in the search.
In the central city of Cebu, where most of the ferry’s passengers were from, relatives were waiting for the first bodies to arrive.
Only 48 people were found alive from the disaster and they told harrowing tales of mountainous waves and children rolling around the deck as the vessel started to sink.
Rescuers, meanwhile, are running short of body bags and formaldehyde.
“Right now, what our navy personnel are using to control the smell is gin,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Edgard Arevalo, a navy spokesman.
Shipping tragedies are common in the Philippines, where safety rules are poorly implemented and substandard vessels ply dangerous waters.
An inquiry has begun into the Princess of the Stars disaster and the coast guard station commander in Manila has been removed from his post while it proceeds.