November 9, 2013

Philippine typhoon death toll could reach 10,000

Typhoon Haiyan, which slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday, wiped away buildings and leveled seaside homes.

By Jim Gomez
The Associated Press

TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) – The death toll from one of the strongest storms on record that ravaged the central Philippine city of Tacloban could reach 10,000 people, officials said Sunday after the extend of massive devastation became apparent and horrified residents spoke of storm surges as high as trees.

click image to enlarge

Residents walk by debris after powerful Typhoon Haiyan slammed into Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. The central Philippine city of Tacloban was in ruins Saturday, a day after being ravaged by one of the strongest typhoons on record, as horrified residents spoke of storm surges as high as trees and authorities said they were expecting a “very high number of fatalities.”

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

A resident sifts through the rubble of his damaged house on Saturday following a powerful typhoon that hit Tacloban city, in Leyte province, central Philippines. The central Philippine city of Tacloban was in ruins Saturday, a day after being ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons on record, as horrified residents spoke of storm surges as high as trees and authorities said they were expecting a “very high number of fatalities.”

The Associated Press

Regional police chief Elmer Soria said he was briefed by Leyte provincial Gov. Dominic Petilla late Saturday and told there were about 10,000 deaths on the island, mostly by drowning and from collapsed buildings. The governor’s figure was based on reports from village officials in areas where Typhoon Haiyan slammed Friday.

Tacloban city administrator Tecson Lim said that the death toll in the city alone “could go up to 10,000.”

About 300-400 bodies have already been recovered, Lim said.

The typhoon barreled through six central Philippine islands on Friday, wiping away buildings and leveling seaside homes. Most of the deaths and destruction were on Leyte Island, where Tacloban is located.

The typhoon weakened Sunday as it approached central and northern Vietnam where authorities evacuated more than 500,000 people.

“The rescue operation is ongoing. We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured,” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said after visiting Tacloban on Saturday. “All systems, all vestiges of modern living – communications, power, water – all are down. Media is down, so there is no way to communicate with the people in a mass sort of way.”

President Benigno Aquino III said the casualties “will be substantially more” than the official count of 151 as of Sunday – but gave no figure or estimate. He said the government’s priority was to restore power and communications in isolated areas to allow for the delivery of relief and medical assistance to victims.

The Philippine Red Cross and its partners were preparing for a major relief effort “because of the magnitude of the disaster,” said the agency’s chairman, Richard Gordon.

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