15/11/2013 06:06 GMT | Updated 15/11/2013 07:43 GMT

Typhoon Haiyan: Britain Sends Plane Full Of Diggers, Land Rovers To Assist With Disaster

Dan Kitwood via Getty Images
LEYTE, PHILIPPINES - NOVEMBER 15: A man sifts through debris on November 15, 2013 in Leyte, Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan which ripped through Philippines over the weekend has been described as one of the most powerful typhoons ever to hit land, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. Countries all over the world have pledged relief aid to help support those affected by the typhoon, however damage to the airport and roads have made moving the aid into the most affected areas very difficult. With dead bodies left out in the open air and very limited food, water and shelter, health concerns are growing. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Emblazoned with the words “UK aid from the British people”, two JCB diggers, two Land Rovers and a forklift truck are being flown to the typhoon-hit Philippines.

The heavy-duty vehicles, along with much needed medical supplies left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on the huge C-17 transporter plane as part of Britain's emergency response to the disaster.

The aircraft, being operated by No 99 Squadron, is due to land in the Philippines in around 24 hours.


The equipment will be used to help with the clean up

Flight Sergeant Tony Rimmer, load master at Brize Norton, said: "You feel like you're doing your part to help. It's a small part but we try to do our best.

"We've had no shortage of volunteers to carry out the task that we've got to do."

Speaking at Brize Norton, International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: "We have been one of the countries that has really been part of trying to get humanitarian aid through to the people on the ground.

"But what we know is we have to get the logistics operation up and running and that means clearing the roads.

"You cannot do that without the right equipment. We've got the right equipment and we're sending it over."

Doctors, surgeons and paramedics are already in Manila

She added: "I think we'll be working with the Philippines over the coming months, possibly years. Obviously this has been a terrible disaster.

"We have got to work with them to try and make sure that we provide the humanitarian support to the people on the ground now, and then work with them to try and get their infrastructure back up and running."

A 12-strong team of British doctors, surgeons and paramedics landed in the capital, Manila, yesterday to help treat survivors of the typhoon, the Department for International Development (DfID) said.

Their arrival came as Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious was also being sent there.

The vessel, which was taking part in exercises in the Gulf, will arrive in the disaster zone to support the humanitarian operation by November 25, replacing HMS Daring, which has already been deployed to the Philippines.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has said its charity appeal to help the 11.5 million people affected by the disaster has raised £23 million in two days and the Government has given more than £20 million in aid.

The Philippines government has defended its efforts to deliver assistance to victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Interior secretary Mar Roxas said: "In a situation like this, nothing is fast enough."

He was speaking in the city of Tacloban, most of which was destroyed by the storm one week ago.

Government officials have given different death tolls, both actual and estimated, as a result of the disaster.

The spokesman for the country's civil defence agency, Major Reynaldo Balido, said the figure had risen to 2,360.

But some officials estimate that the final toll, when the missing are declared dead and remote regions are reached, will be more than 10,000.

At least 600,000 people have been displaced, many of them homeless.

Mr Cameron, who announced the deployment of HMS Illustrious yesterday during a visit to India, said: "What happened in the Philippines is an absolute tragedy. You can see the devastation, the suffering, and it's quite clear that we are going to need long-term help for those people.

"As ever, the British people have been very generous with their donations.

"The British Government has already pledged over £20 million, which makes us one of the most generous donors anywhere in the world. But it's practical action that's needed as well."

Workers in Tacloban have been burying scores of unidentified bodies in a mass grave as desperately needed aid begins to reach some of the half-million people displaced by the disaster.

UN humanitarian chief Baroness Amos said 11.5 million people have been affected by the typhoon, losing loved ones and suffering injuries and damage to their homes, businesses and livelihoods.

"The situation is dismal... tens of thousands of people are living in the open... exposed to rain and wind," she told reporters in Manila.

She said the immediate priority for humanitarian agencies over the next few days is to transport and distribute high-energy biscuits and other food, tarpaulins, tents, clean drinking water and basic sanitation services.

"I think we are all extremely distressed that this is day six and we have not managed to reach everyone," she said.