USS George Washington, Marines sent to Philippines for Haiyan relief efforts

Marines board a KC-130J Hercules aircraft Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, moments before departing for a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission to the Philippines.

This story has been updated and corrected.

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa -- The U.S. military stepped up humanitarian aid efforts in the Philippines on Tuesday, with more troops heading in from Japan and an aircraft carrier moving into position off the typhoon-battered country’s coast.

The Marine Corps was deploying about 45 more Okinawa-based Marines aboard a C-130 aircraft Tuesday afternoon. The USS George Washington strike group ended a port call early in Hong Kong to steam toward the Philippines, where up to 10,000 people may have been killed by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall.

Officials are working to get food, water and shelter to the more than 11 million people estimated to be affected by the storm.

The Philippines government evacuated hundreds of thousands of residents in advance of the super typhoon that swept ashore Friday, packing winds of up to 170 mph and causing storm surges that swamped coastal communities.

The additional Marine forces Tuesday are part of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. Four MV-22 Ospreys, three KC-130 cargo planes and 180 Marines and sailors departed Monday for storm-hit areas in the sprawling archipelago of more than 7,000 islands.

A Marine forward command element, which arrived Sunday, was still assessing damage and gauging needs. It set up staging areas at Villamor Air Base in Manila and the former Clark Air Base in Angeles City, according to a Marine spokesman on Okinawa.

The USS George Washington strike group is carrying 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft to join the humanitarian effort. The cruisers USS Antietam and USS Cowpens, the destroyer USS Mustin and a Navy supply ship, USNS Charles Drew, will accompany the George Washington. USS Lassen got under way Monday in support of the relief effort.

The ships were expected to arrive off the Philippines within two to three days, Pentagon spokesman George Little said.

Late Tuesday, the Pentagon also announced that two amphibious warships from Sasebo Naval Base in Japan would also be sent to help with disaster relief.

The Department of Defense authorized humanitarian aid over the weekend amid grim reports of Haiyan’s destruction.  

Aside from military forces, the United States is distributing $20 million in immediate relief aid, including emergency shelter, food and water, through its USAID program in the Philippines.

The country’s southeast appears to be the worst hit, according to The Associated Press. About 630,000 people have been displaced by Haiyan and its aftermath.

Because of incorrect information provided by the Marines, the number of troops that flew out of Okinawa to the Philippines was misstated in an earlier version of this story. It has been amended to reflect that 45, not 100, Marines deployed to the Philippines on Tuesday.

Twitter: @Travis_Tritten

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How you can help

In the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan slamming into the Philippines, relief organizations are calling on Americans to donate funds to their efforts.

UNICEF staff in the Philippines is being repositioned to provide emergency aid and the organization is gearing up to deliver supplies to children and their families. Donations can be made online or by texting RELIEF to 864233 to donate $10.

CARE teams are on the ground in the Philippines and the organization plans to provide emergency relief to thousands of families. Donations can be made online or by calling 1-800-521-CARE within the U.S. or +1-404-681-2552.

World Vision is mobilizing nearly 500 staff around the country to respond to the disaster. Donations are accepted online and the organization also lets you sponsor a child in the Philippines.

• The American Red Cross has volunteers spread throughout the region and accepts donations online. You can also mail a check to your local American Red Cross chapter designating Philippines Typhoons and Flood in the memo line.

• The U.N. World Food Programme is urging Americans to make donations to support its emergency food relief after Typhoon Haiyan. You can donate online or by texting the word AID to 27722 to donate $10.

AmeriCares is deploying medical aid and a relief team to Philippines, and says an emergency shipment with enough medical aid for 20,000 survivors is already on its way.

• The Philippine Red Cross has deployed staff and volunteers across the region. You can easily make a donation through organization's website.

• To donate to the Salvation Army's Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts, visit its website or text TYPHOON to 80888 to donate $10 and reply YES to confirm your donation. The organization uses 100% of all disaster donations in support of disaster relief.

• Looking for someone in the Philippines area that is in your family or a friend? Google has launched a person finder for the storm, also known as Yolanda in the Philippines, where you can try and find out someone's whereabouts or enter your own information.