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Typhoon-struck Philippine city begins mass burial

  • Children run towards a U.S. military aircraft as it arrives to distribute aid to Typhoon Haiyan survivors in the destroyed town of Guiuan, Philippines on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

TACLOBAN, Philippines — Workers in this typhoon-shattered city buried scores of unidentified bodies in a hillside mass burial Thursday as desperately needed aid began to reach some of the half-million people displaced by the disaster.

Dozens more bodies were lined up in bags outside Tacloban City Hall waiting to be taken to burial sites. Six days after Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines, many of the dead were still lying along roads as survivors searched for bodies buried under the rubble.

Philippine soldiers on trucks distributed rice and water as chainsaw-wielding teams cut debris from blocked roads. Thousands more swarmed the city's damaged airport, desperate to leave or to get treatment at a makeshift medical center.

Typhoon Haiyan

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The USS George Washington aircraft carrier arrived in the Philippine Sea near the Gulf of Leyte on Thursday, and will set up a position off the coast of Samar Island to assess the damage and provide medical and water supplies, the 7th Fleet said in a statement.

The carrier and its strike group brought 21 helicopters to the area, which can help reach the most inaccessible areas.

Authorities say 2,357 people have been confirmed dead in the disaster, but that figure is expected to rise, perhaps significantly, when information is collected from other areas of the disaster zone.

In the city's first mass burial, scores of bodies in leaking black bags were lowered into graves without any prayers being said.

John Cajipe, 31, and three teenage boys who work at the local cemetery placed the first body in the grave's right hand corner. Sweat rolled down their faces in the blistering sun as they carried the body.

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