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International Relief Efforts Picking up in Typhoon-Hit Philippines

The Pentagon is sending an aircraft carrier as part of U.S. efforts to accelerate aid to the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines, where 10,000 people are feared dead and many more displaced.

Some of the affected areas had still not been reached Tuesday, four days after Typhoon Haiyan plowed through the remote island region with historically powerful winds and tsunami-like waves.

The U.N. estimates 660,000 people were displaced by the storm. Many have no access to food, water or medicine and there have been reports of widespread looting in Tacloban, the worst-hit city.

International relief efforts have begun to pick up. The U.S. on Monday announced it is providing $20 million in humanitarian aid. It is also sending the USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier with 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft on board.

Nearly 200 U.S. forces are already helping Philippine authorities with relief efforts. Captain Cassandra Gesecki is a PIO with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. She tells VOA the extent of the damage makes it hard to deliver help.

"There's trees uprooted, no limbs, no rooftops, no walls. You know, the roads are completely untenable. You can't get through anywhere. Which is difficult, because if you can fly the supplies in, it makes it difficult getting them where they need to go."

Captain Gesecki says her unit is delivering the aid using a mixture of KC-130 cargo planes and the MD-22 Osprey hybrid aircraft, which is able to take off and land vertically.

"The KC-130s are providing a lot of the heavy lift capabilities. Obviously they're big planes, they're able to land on runways. But then once we get the KC-130s to Tacloban or other areas with runways, we're able to bring in our MD-22 Ospreys, or tilt rotor aircraft. And they're capable of going to more remote locations if it's deemed we need to go there and bring supplies to some of the smaller islands."

The Philippines has already sent troops to the worst-hit village of Tacloban, where local officials fear as many as 10,000 people may be dead. But as of Tuesday, aid distribution was slow, as soldiers mainly worked to prevent looting in the fishing village.

Photographs and video circulating Monday showed hundreds of people returning from the hills around Tacloban, only to find mounds of wreckage where their homes had stood in the once-thriving city of 220,000 residents.

Other amateur footage showed streets that still are strewn with decomposing bodies, and dazed residents slogging through flattened neighborhoods looking for signs of life.

Elizabeth Tromans with Catholic Relief Services says there is "total devastation" in Tacloban, located on the eastern side of the island of Leyte. But she tells VOA that is just the beginning.

"We're just starting to hear more and more about the devastation outside of the city. The devastation is also really widespread even on the western side of the island."

Tromans says many residents prepared emergency goods and took shelter ahead of the storm. But she said the storm was so powerful that even many of the most well-prepared are now left with nothing.

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