US troops help Philippines storm victims

Four Marine CH-46 helicopters flew to Baguio city, which along with nearby provinces was devastated by storm-triggered mudslides that have blocked three key access roads to the area, isolating the upland region in the recent days. Workers with bulldozers partly cleared one road on Sunday, allowing cars but not relief trucks to pass, disaster-response agency spokesman Lt Col Ernesto Torres said.

The US military was responding to a request from the Philippines to help deal with the aftermath of two major storms since September 26. Tropical Depression Parma blew out of the country’s mountainous north late on Saturday, allowing the US troops to start airlifting food aid to Baguio.

About 700 marines and sailors were on hand to help out, said Marine Capt Jorge Escatell, a US military spokesman. The helicopters flew to northern San Fernando township, where they picked up about 10 tonnes of food that were delivered to Baguio.The floods and landslides killed at least 53 people in Baguio.

While the weather has cleared, the city of more than 300,000 people faced dwindling food and gasoline supplies. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo flew in by helicopter on Sunday to check the situation. “There is nearly zero gasoline supply now, and we are running low on food,” Javier said, adding many foreign tourists were among those stranded in the city.
Apart from shortage of gasoline, the province has run out of coffins.

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