Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah yesterday ordered that $10mn in urgent relief aid be sent to typhoon-ravaged Philippines, where thousands of people are feared dead.

“In sympathy with the victims of the destructive typhoon that ravaged the Philippines ... the emir ordered $10mn in urgent relief aid to help face this humanitarian catastrophe,” the official Kuna news agency cited State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah al-Sabah as saying. The UN has launched an appeal for more than $300mn in aid. UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told reporters in Manila the money was needed for “food, health, sanitation, shelter, debris removal and also protection of the most vulnerable”. The UN estimates 10,000 people may have died in the city of Tacloban alone, where 16-foot waves flattened nearly everything in their path as they swept hundreds of metres across the low-lying land. However, Philippine President Benigno Aquino said late Tuesday he believed that number was “too much”, adding that 2,500 “is the figure we’re working on”, despite the rapidly climbing toll and the bodies still littering the streets of Tacloban.Meanwhile, Japan is ready to send as many as 1,000 troops to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines to help with relief efforts, a defence ministry spokesman said yesterday.

The comments came a day after Tokyo dispatched 50 members of its Self-Defence Forces (SDF) to assist in medical support and transport operations following Manila’s request for assistance.

Three naval ships and an unspecified number of aircraft would accompany the proposed contingent, Jiji Press news agency reported. “We will continue consulting with the Philippine government about the size of the deployment it may need,” the defence ministry official said.

Their work would be focused on the devastated city of Tacloban, after one of the biggest storms in recorded history demolished entire communities across the central part of the island nation.

The provincial capital was the first Philippine city to be liberated from Japan’s occupying forces by US troops in 1944 during World War II. If Tokyo sends a 1,000-troop contingent, it would be the largest single relief operation team sent abroad by the SDF, Japan’s de facto military which must adhere to the country’s post-war pacifist constitution. The defence forces have helped in previous regional relief efforts including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.


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