US carrier begins Philippine storm relief

The aircraft carrier started unloading food and water to the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines.

Rescue workers carry a woman about to give birth at a makeshift Department of Health medical center at the Tacloban airport in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, eastern island of Leyte on November 9, 2013. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The US Navy aircraft carrier with 5, 000 crew and experts on board has arrived in the Philippines to bring much-needed aid to hundreds of thousands of people who have gone without food and clean water for nearly a week.

The aircraft carrier started unloading food and water to the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines on Thursday, as President Benigno Aquino faced mounting pressure to speed up the distribution of supplies.

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest cyclones on record, pushed in a wall of water over 3 metres high, washing away towns on many islands in the south of the country.

While relief efforts picked up, local authorities began burying the dead.

The official death toll has climbed to over 2, 300 and thousands more have been injured and many are still missing.

US President Barack Obama said, "One of our core principles is when a friend is in trouble America helps. The US will continue to offer whatever assistance we can. Our military personnel and AIDT team do this better than anyone in the world and they've been working tirelessly to offer food, water, medicine and shelter."

Many petrol station owners whose businesses were spared have refused to reopen, leaving little fuel for trucks needed to move supplies and medical teams around the devastated areas nearly a week after Typhoon Haiyan struck.

Britain also said it would send a helicopter carrier, HMS Illustrious, to help in the relief effort. Japan was also planning to send up to 1,000 troops as well as naval vessels and aircraft, in what could be Tokyo's biggest post war military deployment.

Meanwhile, local NGO Gift of the Givers has departed to the South East Asian nation to join the rescue effort while Rescue SA will deploy on Saturday morning.

An Eyewitness News reporter is accompanying the Gift of the Givers.