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In addition, the Pentagon could send thousands of Marines to help recovery efforts. Currently, about 300 Marines are providing disaster relief, but that number could grow to as many as 2,000 or more in the days to come, a senior Marine official said on background.

So far, Marines have delivered 107,000 pounds of relief supplies to the Philippines, including potable water, food, shelter, hygiene products and medical supplies.

The U.S. also is providing $20 million in immediate aid through USAID.

“The remote and dispersed terrain and the utter destructive capacity of this typhoon will fully tax the U.S. and international response,” said Mr. Cronin, who served as the third-ranking official at USAID in the George W. Bush administration.

Kristina Wong contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.