Typhoon Haiyan may have hit the Philippines with the strongest sustained cyclone winds on record at 195 mph. Gusts reported at first landfall rose to 235 mph (375 kph) — also a record, if confirmed.
Amid widespread suffering and reports of rising tensions on the ground, aid organizations and nations around the world raced to deliver aid to areas devastated by the storm five days ago.
While continued rain and transportation problems were stymieing efforts to deliver aid to those in need, Doctors Without Borders was one of many international organizations deploying cargo flights with hundreds of tons of supplies on board. Among the gear: tetanus vaccinations, hygiene kits, tents and even an inflatable hospital to treat badly wounded people staggering into Tacloban’s shattered airport seeking treatment. Oxfam and other organizations, U.N. and U.S. civilian disaster assessment teams were on the scene.
In Hong Kong, the U.S. Navy rounded up sailors enjoying shore leave from the USS George Washington and ordered the aircraft carrier’s strike group to make “best speed” for the Philippines. Its air wings will deliver supplies and medical care to survivors.
At least 29 nations or government groups had sent or pledged aid, according to the Philippines government. Among the aid — $25 million from the United Nations, $4 million from the European Union, $16 million from Britain and $10 million from the United Arab Emirates, home to a large population of expatriate Filipino workers.
Belgium and Russia sent field hospitals. The European Union sent 3 million euros ($4 million) and two Boeing 747 aircraft loaded with supplies. Israel loaded up two 747s with 200 medical personnel and supplies.
But it will almost certainly continue to be difficult to get that aid to survivors. Many roads remain blocked, and electricity is out in many areas, making it difficult to operate at night.