Marines load a KC-130J Hercules on Nov. 10 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, during preparation for a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission to the Philippines. (Lance Cpl. David N. Hersey / Marine Corps)
An aerial view shows the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan on Nov. 10 over the Leyte province, Philippines. (Ryan Lim / Malacanang Photo Bureau via Getty Image)
U.S. military commanders have dispatched a team of Marines to the Philippines where as many as 10,000 people are feared dead in the wake of Friday’s devastating typhoon, which now is barreling toward Vietnam and prompting mass evacuations there.
Approximately 90 Marines and sailors left Okinawa, Japan, on Sunday, officials said in a news release. They will link up with an advance survey team and are expected to concentrate on searching for survivors both from the air and on the ground while providing logistical support for what is most certainly to become an enormous humanitarian-assistance mission.
In addition to personnel, the Marine Corps is leveraging MV-22 Osprey aircraft, capable of hauling people and equipment, as well as KC-130J aerial refueling planes, the news release indicates.
The Marines are part of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, an air-ground task force based in Japan, and will be led by Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy. It’s not immediately clear what individual units are represented.
Initial news reports from the Philippines are horrific. A story in USA Today says that in the hardest hit areas, corpses are suspended from trees and strewn along sidewalks. Scores of buildings have been flattened, and desperate survivors are looting stores in search of food, water and fuel.
Some 4.2 million people spanning 36 provinces have been affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan, the Marine Corps is reporting, and the scope of the damage is only now becoming clear. Officials expect to have a fuller picture in the days ahead, as communication and transportation systems are brought back online.