Monday, November 18, 2013

These photos of Typhoon Haiyan's devastation show one of the problems (aviation) bedeviling the typhoon relief effort

The two photos below were taken by the photographers of the U.S. Navy and the Australian Defence Force respectively. The first photo shows Guiuan Airport, in Eastern Samar Province while the second is of Tacloban Airport in Leyte, approximately 50 miles (80km) from each other across the Leyte Gulf. Both areas have been hard hit by Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines a little over a week ago.

Other than showing the damage wrought by the ferocious typhoon, it also illustrates clearly one of the many (and by no means the most difficult) problems the global disaster relief efforts helping the victims of the record-breaking storm. Even without the airport facilities being badly damaged by the typhoon, the airports themselves are both very small and poorly equipped. With 2-3 C-130 Hercules-sized transports on the ground, both tarmacs are already at full capacity and the only other aircraft capable of operating at that particular time are light aircraft or helicopters (which can be seen in both photos). This would undoubtedly slow the pace of relief efforts as well as the evacuation of the victims.

On another note, up to 14 United States Marine Corps MV-22B Ospreys from the two Okinawa-based squadrons are already supporting the relief efforts in the area. The Ospreys are proving themselves in this situation, having the range to deploy from Okinawa to the Philippines without needing a ship to ferry them across. Their ability to operate from/to anywhere a helicopter can, as well as being able to fly at the speed of a fixed-wing asset, is also proving to be very useful.

The international community has so far been very generous in mobilising to assist the victims, with nations and non-governmental organisations rallying to contribute to the relief effort. However it will still be a long road ahead to recover fully from the effects of this devastating event.

Click on thumbnails for high-resolution image

Above: 131117-N-XN177-381 GUIUAN, Eastern Samar Province, Republic of the Philippines (Nov. 17, 2013) An HC-130 Hercules and other military aircraft sit on the tarmac at Guiuan airport waiting to airlift Philippine citizens in support of Operation Damayan. The George Washington Strike Group supports the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade to assist the Philippine government in response to the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Republic of the Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Peter Burghart/RELEASED)

Above: 20131115raaf8298528_0820 Surrounded by the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan, US Air Force and Philippines Air Force C-130 Hercules (Ed: From left to right, the C-130s are from the Republic of Singapore Air Force, United States Marine Corps and Philippine Air Force. Two Philippine Navy Britten-Norman Islanders can also be seen, as well a U.S. Navy Seahawk) deliver aid and evacuate people at Tacloban airport. (© Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence Photo by CPL Glen McCarthy)

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