United Nations gears up to assist Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan

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A United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team has been deployed in the Philippines to support local authorities with rapid needs assessment in the wake of destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

Initial estimates indicate that the super typhoon has ripped roofs off housing, uprooted trees and affected businesses, but the full extent of the damage will not be known until the storm has passed, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines early on Friday, and according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), it is the strongest tropical cyclone so far this year and one of the most intense on record.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says up 12 million people are living directly in the path of the Typhoon.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says it is stockpiling emergency food supplies to support civilians in the affected regions.

Elisabeth Byrs is the WFP spokesperson in Geneva.

"WFP estimates that some 2.5 million people will require immediate food assistance in the aftermath of the typhoon. WFP resources are currently stretched. We are already assisting people affected by the earthquake in Bohol province as well as those displaced by fighting in Zamboanga in addition to our regular operation in Mindanao. We need urgently $2 million for the immediate needs of an initial 500,000 people to buy 2,000 tons of rice and 40 tons of high energy biscuits."

Typhoon Haiyan has devastated areas already struggling to recover from a deadly 7.3-magnitude earthquake last month, including the worst-hit island of Bohol where about 5,000 people are still living in tents.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

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