Thursday, November 14, 2013

scenes from the anthropocene...,

LATimes | As concerns grew about rampant looting and lawlessness, Philippine security forces sent reinforcements and imposed a nighttime curfew in Tacloban. Armed assailants have been holding up aid convoys headed to the city. On Tuesday, troops killed two suspected communist rebels who attacked one such convoy, the military said.

Local officials said bands of looters, having cleaned out shops in Tacloban, were beginning to break into the homes of people who had died or fled the city. But there were reports that newly arrived troops were restoring order.

Flights delivering aid from around the world are arriving at the airport in Cebu, which has been turned into a logistics hub for the relief effort. The many donations included a field hospital from Belgium and a portable purification plant from Germany, according to European officials.

By the end of the day Wednesday, the United States had delivered nearly 274,000 pounds of supplies to Tacloban, about 100 miles northeast of Cebu, said two senior Obama administration officials who briefed reporters in Washington on condition of anonymity. The shipments included plastic tarps, hygiene kits, blankets and medical supplies.

U.S. military personnel had also evacuated about 800 people from Tacloban to Manila for medical treatment.

Philippine welfare personnel loaded up packages of rice and canned food provided by the World Food Program and distributed them to nearly 50,000 Tacloban residents. But even there, where the bulk of assistance has been delivered, bodies still lined the streets because, authorities said, there were not enough hands to remove them.

Hundreds of additional Marines are expected to arrive in the Philippines by week's end to bolster the relief effort, which has struggled against logistical hurdles and the scale of the devastation.

Aid has yet to reach many victims of the typhoon, known by Filipinos as Yolanda, particularly on outlying islands.

"The major challenge is logistics," said Mathias Rick, a regional spokesman for the European Commission's humanitarian aid directorate. "With all this aid arriving and at the same time, the various Philippine authorities — military, civilian structures, the Philippine Red Cross — trying to distribute aid to so many communities ... obviously there are bottlenecks."

Some of the logistical problems eased Wednesday, as remote airstrips and major roads were cleared of debris. However, fuel shortages and lack of power remain problems in rural areas.

The longer the aid takes to arrive, the more people try to leave. Every day, desperate residents gather at Tacloban airport hoping for a spot on one of the departing supply planes.


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