TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — A United States aircraft carrier was steaming toward the typhoon-ravaged eastern Philippines on Tuesday to add muscle to relief efforts that have yet to fully begin four days after the disaster.
The USS George Washington was expected to arrive off the coast in about two days, according to the Pentagon. A similar sized US ship, and its fleet of helicopters capable of dropping tons of water daily and evacuating wounded, was credited with saving scores of lives after the 2004 Asian tsunami.
Authorities estimate the typhoon killed 10,000 or more people when it made landfall Friday.
In the worst-hit areas, bloated bodies lay uncollected and uncounted in the streets and desperate survivors pleaded for food, water and medicine as rescue workers took on a daunting task in the typhoon-battered islands of the Philippines.
The hard-hit city of Tacloban resembled a garbage dump from the air, with only a few concrete buildings left standing in the wake of one of the most powerful storms to ever hit land, packing 147-mph winds and whipping up 20-foot walls of seawater that tossed ships inland and swept many out to sea.
"Help. SOS. We need food," read a message painted by a survivor in large letters on the ravaged city's port, where water lapped at the edge.
There was no one to carry away the dead, which lay rotting along the main road from the airport to Tacloban, the worst-hit city along the country's remote eastern seaboard.
At a small naval base, eight swollen corpses — including that of a baby — were submerged in water brought in by the storm. Officers had yet to move them, saying they had no body bags or electricity to preserve them.
Authorities estimated the typhoon killed 10,000 or more people, but with the slow pace of recovery, the official death toll three days after the storm made landfall remained at 942.