The U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington arrived in the Philippines early Thursday as international relief efforts continue to combat the growing crisis on the typhoon-stricken island nation.
As many as 1,000 U.S. troops may be in the country by the end of the week, a senior U.S. defense official said Wednesday, speaking on background. Just more than 300 troops, mostly Marines and sailors, are currently in the Philippines with the primary mission of providing food, water and shelter supplies, all of which are scarce.
Drones deployed from Guam are also hovering overhead to help assess the extent of the damage from Typhoon Haiyan, which blew through the Philippines affecting almost 10 million locals and displacing hundreds of thousands.
Makeshift hospitals are working around the clock, at times using candlelight to address widespread medical concerns, reports CBS News. Filipinos have begun burying their dead in mass graves to get the bodies off of the streets.
In Tacloban, 30 bodies in leaking black body bags were buried in graves without any ceremony.
"I hope this is the last time I see something like this," Mayor Alfred Romualdez told CBS. "When I look at this it just reminds me of what has happened from the day the storm hit until today."
Aid is flowing to the southeast Asian nation, including 107,000 pounds of international relief supplies and 6,000 pounds of Philippine-provided water, tarps, medical supplies and blankets. But U.S. officials cite logistical concerns for getting the supplies where they are needed most.
"It's a lot like trying to squeeze an orange through a straw. We are now getting more straws, if you will, and bigger straws," said an administration official, also speaking on background. "We're getting to a better place. It's been a very difficult first few days wading through these logistics obstacles."
Workers have finally cleared a land route to Tacloban, one of the most hard-hit regions which previously had been cut off by storm damage.
Marines are relying heavily on eight MV-22 Ospreys deployed to the region. The tiltrotor aircraft are able to hover as well as fly like a plane and do not require an airfield to take off or land.
The U.S. government has offered $20 million in assistance, half through U.S. Agency for International Development and the rest through the World Food Program.
Roughly 500 people have been evacuated out of Tacloban alone.
President Barack Obama called Philippine leader Benigno Aquino earlier this week. Secretary of State John Kerry also called his counterpart, Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario.
USAID offers four ways to help the Philippine relief efforts through a special page on its website.
Time Warner Cable says it is offering free calls to the Philippines for its customers.