The crisis in the Philippines is far from over. With dead bodies reportedly still lying alongside the roads of their destroyed city, residents of Tacloban are desperate for basic aid—food, water, shelter—all of which has been slow to arrive.
To hasten relief efforts, Philippine officials have asked for help from the United States, who dispatched the aircraft carrier U.S.S. George Washington from Hong Kong on Tuesday.
"We've asked the U.S. for aid and the secretary of defense says they are sending an aircraft carrier and a couple other ships — those are en route," Ricky Carandang, a spokesman for the Philippine president, Benigno S. Aquino III, told the New York Times.
"There are lots of remote areas that haven't received aid," Mr. Carandang said. "The priority is to get food and water supplied. With communications partially functioning, with ports and roads blocked, we need to get that clear first. We need to get the roads clear before you can get the aid to them."
Reports from Tacloban show that efforts by the Philippine military to evacuate survivors have so far been underwhelming. When two Philippine Air Force cargo planes landed early Tuesday morning, thousands of people were waiting at the airport hoping to escape, many holding young children above their heads; only several hundred made it out, leaving thousands of frustrated and desperate people behind.
"I was pleading with the soldiers. I was kneeling and begging because I have diabetes," said Helen Cordial, whose house was destroyed in the storm. "Do they want me to die in this airport? They are stone-hearted."
"We need help. Nothing is happening," said Aristone Balute, an 81-year-old who also didn't get a flight. "We haven't eaten since yesterday afternoon." Her clothes were soaked from the rain, and tears streamed down her face.
Debris is blocking many of the roads leading to and inside Tacloban, making relief efforts difficult. Further complicating rescue efforts is the fact that the city's airport control tower was destroyed in Typhoon Haiyan, forcing all incoming flights to land by site, which has substantially slowed aid delivery.
"There has been a lot of commentary that relief is not moving as fast as it should be," said Praveen Agrawal, the World Food Program's Philippines representative and country director. "The reality on the ground is there is such a level of devastation."
"Under normal circumstances, even in a typhoon, you'd have some local infrastructure up and some businesses with which you can contract," Mr. Agrawal said. "Being as strong as it was, it was very much like a tsunami. It wiped out everything. It's like starting from scratch" in terms of delivering the aid, he said.
[Top and bottom image via AP, middle image via Getty]