Typhoon Haiyan: Relief Efforts Continue Despite Chaos

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As is sometimes the case when massive disasters strike, chaos and panic can easily follow.

The Stars and Stripes reports such a chaotic scene at the Tacloban airport in the Philippines as people try to leave the typhoon-stricken region:

It was a chaotic scene at the Tacloban airport on Friday as commercial airlines crowded ramps and runways, and people with cash were put on flights out of the ravaged city ahead of the sick, the injured, children and pregnant women.

A line of healthy-looking adults could be seen paying between 1800 and 2800 pesos ($40 to $65) to airline ground staff, then boarding small commercial jets as about 2,000 other typhoon victims — presumably without money to buy tickets — were held back by armed soldiers. The crowd, which included many frightened women and children, was mostly orderly, but at times the soldiers dragged queue jumpers back and there were frantic scenes when families became separated amid the confusion.

The Stripes laments that while the commercial passengers head out of the disaster zone in comfort, “other evacuees were being packed into military transports and strapped to the floor, like cargo, during flight” and that on Friday afternoon, “more than half the ramp space at Tacloban’s domestic airport was occupied by commercial jets, leaving only enough room for a single Philippine Air Force C-130 to drop off supplies and transport exhausted refugees to Manila.”

In the meantime those U.S. Marines we have been reporting on, their “eyes blood red from lack of sleep, scowled as they surveyed the commercial jets blocking their own aircraft.”

As is also often the case the U.S. Marines were “there” first. But the U.S. Air Force and the Air Force Special Operations Command were not far behind.

The U.S. Air Force:

The 374th Airlift Wing deployed a C-130 Hercules aircraft on Nov. 13, carrying a full complement of crew members and aircraft maintenance personnel and stopped at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Nov. 14, to pick up supplies and personnel destined for the typhoon-stricken area.

A 12-member assessment team from the 36th Contingency Response Group joined the Airmen from Yokota AB. They will determine if the Tacloban airfield in the Philippines is able to receive follow on aircraft, particularly, C-17 Globemaster IIIs. They also delivered two Humvees and two all-terrain vehicles to help assess the airfield.

Here are some photographs:

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Airman 1st Class Andrew Wiseman, a loadmaster with the 17th Special Operations Squadron, works with members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to assist displaced people boarding an MC-130P Combat Shadow Nov. 14, 2013 at Tacloban Airport, Philippines. Members of Air Force Special Operations Command are deployed alongside U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in support of Operation Damayan to provide humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer)

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Staff Sgt. Alicia Chavez, 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron independent duty medical technician, passes out ear plugs to displaced people onboard an MC-130P Combat Shadow Nov. 14, 2013, as they are transported from Tacloban Airport to Manila, Philippines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer)

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Tech. Sgt. David D. Wheeler, a loadmaster with the 17th Special Operations Squadron, carries a displaced person off an MC-130P Combat Shadow, Nov. 14, 2013 at Tacloban Airport, Philippines. The displaced people were transported to safety in Manila. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer)

Operation Damayan

Airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group offload equipment from an MC-130H Combat Talon II Nov. 15, 2013 at Ormoc Airport, Philippines. The Airmen, deployed in support of Operation Damayan, are assisting the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific as they provide aid in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer)

Lead image: Airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group offload equipment from an MC-130H Combat Talon II Nov. 15, 2013 at Ormoc Airport, Philippines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer)

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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