HMS Illustrious has delivered 500 tonnes of UK aid to areas of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. The helicopter carrier, with seven helicopters on board, was diverted via Singapore from counter-piracy operations to assist with the humanitarian aid operation despite being more than 6,000 nautical miles away. Her arrival allowed the destroyer HMS Daring, which had spent a week providing emergency relief to remote islands, to resume her programme.The prompt reaction to the natural disaster by foreign navies, including the USN, which mobilised an aircraft carrier and ships from a base in Japan, was in contrast to the less urgent response from the Chinese authorities, with whom the Philippines government is engaged in a bitter territorial dispute. They only despatched Daishandao, a purpose-built hospital ship, after a great deal of foreign and domestic criticism. Also known as Peace Ark, the ship has 300 hospital beds, eight operating theatres and 100 medical staff.

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