November 14 -- The aircraft carrier USS George Washington and a contingent of seven other U.S. Navy ships have arrived in the Philippines to begin helping with disaster relief operations.
The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet says the ships are carrying 21 helicopters that will be used to assess damage and ferry emergency supplies to remote areas cut off by damage from Typhoon Haiyan.
The carrier also has medical facilities and can produce 1.5 million liters of fresh water a day. One of the ships in the carrier group, the USNS Charles Drew, made its first delivery of food and drinking water to the storm ravaged city of Tacloban Thursday.
Meanwhile, a central Philippines town has begun burying dozens of its dead in mass graves, as increasingly desperate survivors of Typhoon Haiyan waited for emergency relief supplies to arrive.
The death toll from last Friday's storm stands at 2,357, although the count was expected to rise. In Tacloban, many corpses still lay in the street or buried beneath debris.
Some of the cadavers were lowered Thursday into a large pit. There was no official ceremony and it is not clear whether all of the bodies had been identified.
Food, water and other basic necessities are still in short supply for many of the hundreds of thousands displaced. Some have turned to looting to survive. One survivor said she has not received any help, six days after the storm.
"We haven't received anything, not even a drop of porridge. My two siblings could die, my elder brother and my nephew are sick, I'm the only one who is not sick. Are they going to wait for all of us here to get sick and die one by one before they do anything? And when we ask them, they say, 'We have no information.' What kind of people are these? They said they would help.''
U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who visited Tacloban Wednesday, said she is "extremely distressed" that the aid has not reached everyone in need, acknowledging "we have let people down."
Although the amount of aid material shipped to affected areas has steadily increased, much of it has been unused at airports or other areas because of a lack of fuel and because roads are still blocked by debris.
(c) 2012 Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc.
Original headline: US Aircraft Carrier Group Begins Relief Operations in Philippines
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