Created on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 Written by MATTHEW LEE, AP Diplomatic Writer
TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — The United States is providing nearly $25 million in additional humanitarian aid to help the Philippines deal with the enormous devastation and deaths wrought by Typhoon Haiyan last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday after touring the worst-hit region.
Kerry flew to central Tacloban city, where he was overwhelmed by the vast landscape of wrecked villages. He visited a food distribution center run by USAID and government welfare officers, talked with officials and consoled survivors.
"This is a devastation unlike anything that I have ever seen at this scale," Kerry said at a temporary USAID headquarters in Tacloban.
"It is really quite stunning," he said. "It looks like a war zone and to many people it is."
The new food aid, shelter materials, water and other supplies he announced for typhoon-lashed families bring the total U.S. assistance package to $86 million for one of its closest Asian allies.
One of the most ferocious typhoons to hit on record, Haiyan left more than 6,000 people dead and nearly 1,800 others missing. It damaged or swept away more than 1.1 million houses and injured more than 27,000 people.
More than 4 million people were displaced, with about 101,000 remaining in 300 emergency shelters in typhoon-smashed central provinces.
In Manila, President Benigno Aquino III appealed for help from diplomats and international aid agencies, saying Haiyan left massive damage and losses amounting to $12.9 billion.
Accompanied by Cabinet members dealing with the typhoon's aftermath, Aquino presented a four-year reconstruction plan to build new shelters away from newly declared danger zones, repair infrastructure, revive the livelihoods of tens of thousands of farmers and fishermen, and restore government services.
Aquino said his government would aim for resilience from future storms as it helps the typhoon-ravaged provinces rise from the calamity.
"We cannot allow ourselves to be trapped in a vicious cycle of destruction and reconstruction," Aquino said. "We are going to build back better."
Associated Press writers Jim Gomez and Oliver Teves in Manila contributed to this report.