WASHINGTON – President Bush offered condolences Tuesday to those in the Philippines harmed by Typhoon Fengshen, and said the U.S. was sending the USS Ronald Reagan to the scene to help.
"We're happy to do it," Bush told Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after a meeting in the Oval Office. "We want to help our friends in a time of need."
Bush said that the aircraft carrier and other Navy assets will move into place immediately. The powerful storm hit over the weekend, leaving dozens dead in flooded communities in the central Philippines. Also, a ferry carrying about 850 people capsized Saturday during the height of the storm. Only about three dozen survivors have been found so far. U.S. ships were helping with the search-and-rescue effort.
Bush sent prayers on behalf of fellow Americans.
"I know there's some families that are hurting," he said. "Some are wondering whether or not their loved ones will reappear."
The Ronald Reagan strike group consists of the carrier, a cruiser, three destroyers and a frigate. The group left about 100 American sailors behind in Hong Kong when it had to depart port on Sunday, a day early, because of safety concerns related to the typhoon. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has about 6,000 sailors aboard.
Typhoon Fengshen's strength weakened to a tropical storm Tuesday.