Damaged roads and airports in the Philippines are hampering international effort to help desperate victims six days after one of the most violent storms to ever make landfall, Typhoon Haiyan, slammed into the country.
“It's as if you've taken [an eraser] and wiped away half the infrastructure. Most of the infrastructure any of us would rely on,” Geoff O'Donoghue, International Director for Catholic Agencies for Overseas Development, told NBC News' British partner ITV News. “The reality is that for those local governments -- they are wiped out as well.”
Haiyan’s 195 mph winds and huge storm surges killed thousands, displaced at least 600,000 and affected 9.5 million people across the Philippines, according to the United Nations. Nearly 4 million of those affected are thought to be children, according to international aid organization Save the Children.
On Tuesday, the United Nations began a $301 million appeal for Haiyan's victims. This followed Monday's decision to release $25 million in aid relief from the organization’s Central Emergency Response Fund.
The United States said it would provide $20 million to help in relief efforts. It is also sending the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which carries 5,000 sailors and 80 aircraft, and three U.S. Navy warships — the cruisers USS Antietam and USS Cowpens and the destroyer USS Mustin — to the Pacific islands.
But so far, simply getting food, water, shelter and fuel, as well as vital equipment like generators, water purifying kits and lighting, into the disaster zone has proved a huge challenge.