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Unionized civilian mariners are playing an important role in America’s rapid response to the tragic events in Philippines.

The island nation was hard hit by Typhoon Haiyan on November 8. Besides the physical damage and widespread devastation, as many as 10,000 people are feared dead.

Civilian crews serve aboard the USNS Bowditch and USNS Yukon, which is part of the first U.S. Navy task force to sail into Leyte Gulf to render assistance. In addition, the hospital ship USNS Mercy is being made ready in San Diego to sail across the Pacific.

The MTD-affiliated Seafarers International Union is reporting members aboard some U.S.-flag vessels have been collecting funds to assist in the recovery.

The London-based International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has posted on its website that campaign to help the afflicted is worldwide.  The ITF has sent funds to its affiliates in the stricken country. The Philippine Seafarers Union is coordinating efforts to distribute food and drink in some of the hard-hit areas, while the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines is ferrying supplies aboard its training vessel.