YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — U.S. Marines and sailors are assessing the damage inflicted on the Philippines by Typhoon Megi and are prepared to deliver aid if called upon, military officials said Thursday.

The Sasebo-based USS Essex, USS Harpers Ferry and USS Denver — along with Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit — are currently on stand-by off the coast of northeast Luzon, according to 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Davis.

“At this point, they are only doing an assessment,” Davis said. “There has been no direction to conduct any humanitarian assistance disaster relief operation.”

The ships were already in the Philippines for a bilateral amphibious assault exercise with Philippine forces, when Megi’s 140 mph winds battered the nation’s northern islands.

The U.S. Embassy in Manila is coordinating all U.S. military and U.S. Agency for International Development assistance, according to an embassy news release. Embassy officials were not available for comment Thursday afternoon.

Philippine officials have attributed 20 deaths to the storm.

Additionally, more than 215,000 people were affected by the typhoon, including 10,300 people who fled to evacuation centers, officials told The Associated Press.

About $30 million worth of infrastructure and crops were damaged, and nearly 5,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, according to the government’s main disaster-response agency.

In Sept. 2009, the Philippine capital of Manila and other areas were devastated by Tropical Storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma. Working with Philippine forces, U.S. servicemembers delivered food, provided medical assistance to 9,000 patients and cleared tons of debris.

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