First batch of Chinese aid arrives in Typhoon Haiyan-devastated Tacloban
Tents and blankets reach one of the worst-hit areas, after initial response was seen as meagre
The first batch of Chinese aid has arrived in the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines as multinational reliefs teams ramped up efforts to help desperate survivors 11 days after the storm hit.
The 10 million yuan (HK$12.65 million) worth of tents and blankets, shipped by a China Eastern Airlines cargo plane on Monday, was handed over to the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development. It was to be sent to Tacloban, one of the worst-hit areas in Leyte province, Xinhua said.
It is on top of the initial US$200,000 from the government and China Red Cross, which was seen as meagre compared to other major nations including the United States and Japan which donated millions of dollars and deployed naval ships and military personnel.
Video: Aid efforts ramped up following Philippines super typhoon
However Filipino internet users thanked China for the donated goods, despite rifts between the two countries over tensions in the South China Sea.
“Thank you, China” Chingkee Villasenor and Cielo Gebilaguin wrote on Twitter, while Inday Espina Varona praised the choice of aid as “very practical” and added: “People [are] hoping for further aid offers.”
China does not have personnel on the ground, but has offered to send a medical team.
Yesterday, the military commander of the storm-hit Visayas region, Lieutenant General Roy Deveraturda, met representatives of nine “allied forces” – the US, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam – and divided the area among them to maximise relief efforts.
“We already have the Americans in Samar and Leyte and Israeli doctors and relief teams in northern tip of Cebu,” Deveraturda said.
“We’re planning to ask the British Royal Navy to concentrate on the western Visayas region to assess and deliver food, water and supplies to smaller islands.”
President Benigno Aquino is now personally overseeing relief operations in Tacloban in one of Asia’s biggest humanitarian efforts, which could last months, if not years.
The Philippines is facing an enormous rebuilding task from Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 3,982 people and left 1,602 missing, with many isolated communities yet to receive significant aid despite a massive international relief effort.
The massive destruction, which displaced four million residents, has led to the biggest influx of humanitarian aid in Asia which, as of yesterday, had topped US$295 million in cash and non-cash relief.
The government said 24,770 personnel, 1,306 vehicles, 104 ships and boats, and 163 aircraft had been deployed. Eighty-eight medical teams, 43 foreign and 45 local, were in the region.
Loan pledges from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank reached a combined US$1 billion yesterday.
Reuters, Xinhua, Agence France Presse