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U.S. helicopters take aid to Philippine city

On Sunday, a girl looks from outside a window at an evacuation center in a village in the northern Philippines. Back-to-back typhoons have killed more than 600.

Associated Press

On Sunday, a girl looks from outside a window at an evacuation center in a village in the northern Philippines. Back-to-back typhoons have killed more than 600.

BAGUIO, Philippines — U.S. Marine CH-46 helicopters loaded with rice, sardines and drinking water flew Sunday into a stricken Philippine mountain city where supplies are running short after landslides triggered by a storm blocked roads and buried dozens of residents.

Three days after tons of mud and rock cascaded down hillsides in Baguio because of heavy rains, rescuers were still digging for survivors. Meanwhile, panic buying of canned goods emptied several stores in the city, and authorities were forced to ration gasoline.

"There is nearly zero gasoline supply now, and we're running low on food," city police chief Agrifino Javier told the Associated Press.

But as Tropical Depression Parma blew out late Saturday after drenching the country's north for a week, the overwhelmed government, helped by the U.S. military, was able to step up relief efforts.

Back-to-back typhoons in the past two weeks have killed more than 600 people in the northern Philippines. Hundreds of thousands are still displaced from their homes, and the damage runs into hundreds of millions of dollars.

Baguio lies in a swath of the north where Parma's rains have left at least 276 people dead.

Flooding and mudslides have blocked key roads, isolating the upland region for three days, said Marine Capt. Jorge Escatell, a U.S. military spokesman.

Police chief Javier said many foreign tourists were among those stranded.

On Sunday, four twin-rotor CH-46 helicopters flew the supplies to Baguio. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also came by helicopter and ordered officials to hasten efforts to reopen the roads. One was reopened Sunday, but only partly.

U.S. helicopters take aid to Philippine city 10/11/09 [Last modified: Sunday, October 11, 2009 10:54pm]

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