As relief supplies slowly make their way to typhoon-ravaged sections of the Philippines, survivors and aid workers are describing a scene of utter devastation in some of the hardest hit areas.
Relief efforts are being slowed by the massive infrastructure damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan, which leveled entire towns and left as many as 10,000 dead. The storm has now reached Vietnam, where it was downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall in northern Quang Ninh province.
The United States and several other countries are sending supplies and rescue personnel to the Philippines. The first U.S. aid and military personnel flew Monday from Manila to Tacloban.
U.S. Marine Brigadier General Paul Kennedy told reporters in the disaster-struck region that American relief efforts are a "whole-government approach."
"The embassy has asked for not just [the] military, but USAID (US Agency for International Development) is [also] here, international relief organizations are here. Obviously the military has logistics capabilities that are unique. So the United States Pacific Command has authorized Marine Forces Pacific to bring in transportation."
Secretary of State John Kerry said U.S. military veterans will be travelling to the Philippines to assist with disaster relief efforts. He adds the U.S. government is organizing emergency shipments of food, hygiene supplies and material to provide shelter for those who lost their homes.
The international aid group Doctors Without Borders said it was sending dozens of medical personnel and logistic experts to neighboring Cebu Island, along with 300 tons of medical and relief items.
The group's relief organizers, along with those from United Nations offices in Manila, said they expect access to the hardest-hit areas to be limited for days because of wrecked infrastructure and communications links.
The World Food Program says it is sending 44 tons of high energy biscuits to the region, enough to feed 120,000 people for a day.
Tacloban, a community of 220,000 residents, has scores of flattened buildings along roadways flooded by a 4-meter storm surge. Most other communities along the storm's path remain without communications.
The fast-moving storm slammed into Leyte Island from the east on Friday. By Sunday, as the scale of the destruction became clear, President Benigno Aquino declared a region-wide state of calamity.