Japan sends military to typhoon-hit Philippines

TOKYO - Japan on Tuesday said it would send some 40 members of its de facto military, known as the Self-Defence Forces, to help out with relief efforts in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines.

The troops will take part in medical support and transport operations, Tokyo said, adding that it may send more personnel if necessary following Manila's request for assistance.

The SDF, which have helped in previous regional relief efforts including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, would be dispatched at the "earliest" possible time, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo without elaborating.

Their work would be focused on the devastated city of Tacloban, four days after one of the biggest storms in recorded history demolished entire communities across the central Philippines.

The provincial capital was the first Philippine city to be liberated from Japan's occupying forces by US troops in 1944 during World War II.

At least 10,000 people are feared dead there while 660,000 have lost their homes, according to the UN.

Tokyo also said it would supply $10 million in grant aid to provide evacuees with emergency shelters and other help through aid organisations.

The US and Britain have deployed warships carrying thousands of soldiers to assist in a vast operation to help nearly 10 million people affected by Friday's super typhoon.