The Canadian Armed Forces are sending three military helicopters and crews to the Philippines, to assist with relief efforts in the typhoon-ravaged country.

Two of the three CH-146 Griffon helicopters are scheduled to deploy Sunday from Canadian Forces Base Trenton aboard a military transport craft, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson announced Saturday.

Nicholson said the helicopters will provide assistance to the Disaster Assistance Response Team, which is currently on the ground helping with relief efforts. 

“The government of Canada and all Canadians are committed to helping relief and stabilization efforts in the Philippines,” Nicholson said in a statement.

The Griffon helicopters can be used to provide airlift to soldiers, retrieving individuals in remote areas and providing support during natural disasters. The aircraft are also used for search and rescue missions, surveillance and casualty evacuations.

As of Saturday morning, the Emergency Watch and Response Centre received inquiries regarding 187 Canadians who were thought to be in the affected areas of the country. While 136 of those individuals confirmed they were safe, 51 Canadians are still missing.

According to the latest figures from the Philippine’s main disaster agency, 3,637 people died, and 12,501 were injured after Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the country. More than 600,000 people were rendered homeless, and 1,186 individuals are still missing.

Canadian soldiers on the ground have made clean drinking water a priority. Col. Stephen Kelsey of Canadian Joint Operations Command said a water purification system is set to arrive in the Philippines by early next week. The purification system will produce 50,000 litres of safe drinking water a day.

Kelsey also said DART was able to send out a medical team to treat victims in hard-hit areas. Around 200 DART members will be providing aid to typhoon victims. But reaching certain communities is challenging, as some roads remain blocked by debris from the storm, Kelsey said.

Canada’s ambassador-designate to the Philippines said Saturday that three additional consular staff are being sent to the city of Roxas, to work with the Canadian Forces and local officials. The staff will work to assess long-term assistance needs in the region.

Meanwhile, a group of medical practitioners from Taiwan have set up a make-shift hospital in an evacuation centre in Cebu City, to treat people who have been evacuated from the city of Tacloban.

Doctors at the centre told CTV News’ Melanie Nagy that the risk of infection rises in the weeks following natural disasters, due to unsanitary conditions and a lack of clean water.

With files from The Canadian Press