American forces were dispatched to the Philippines as the Pacific island country struggled to cope Sunday after one of the most powerful storms in recorded history killed thousands — possibly as many as 10,000 — and wreaked damage far worse than expected.
"At the request of the government of Philippines, Secretary Hagel has directed U.S. Pacific Command to support U.S. government humanitarian relief operations in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan," the Department of Defense said in a statement late on Saturday night.
The first wave of U.S. force — a team of 90 Marines and sailors — flew to Philippines on Sunday to assist with search and rescue operations and provide air support, the Marines said in a statement.
(Slideshow: Scenes from Philippines' super storm)
On Sunday afternoon, U.S. President Barack Obama released a statement saying:
"Michelle and I are deeply saddened by the loss of life and extensive damage done by Super Typhoon Yolanda. But I know the incredible resiliency of the Philippine people, and I am confident that the spirit of Bayanihan (communal work) will see you through this tragedy. The United States is already providing significant humanitarian assistance, and we stand ready to further assist the government's relief and recovery efforts. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions of people affected by this devastating storm."