More than 100 people were killed and nearly 800,000 displaced in the Philippines after one of the strongest typhoons on record flattened homes and triggered storm surges that flooded wide areas, officials said Saturday.
Typhoon Haiyan tore through the eastern and central Philippines on Friday, toppling power lines and knocking out communications. Fierce winds ripped roofs off buildings as raging floodwaters swept debris and left vehicles piled on top of each other in streets.
Bodies were lying on the streets in the eastern province of Leyte, particularly the capital city of Tacloban, according to Captain John Andrews, a deputy director general of the civil aviation authority.
Andrews said the agency’s station manager in Tacloban City also reported that more than 100 people were injured.
“We received a message from our station manager in Tacloban and his message stated that 100 plus dead lying in the streets with 100 plus injured,” he told a Manila television channel. “They were requesting medic operations, medical evacuation and relief.” National disaster relief agency spokesman Reynaldo Balido said the toll was expected to jump as reports trickle in from devastated areas unable to communicate now.
“Yolanda brought massive damage and almost no houses were left standing,” he said, referring to the typhoon’s Philippine name. “Many were reported killed and we are trying to get initial numbers so we don’t get shocked by the increase.” Balido said nearly 800,000 people were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in emergency shelters, some of which were also damaged by the storm in the eastern province of Leyte, which bore the brunt of the typhoon.
“Many people are out in the streets because they have nowhere else to go to,” he said.
Authorities said limited communication services made it difficult to confirm the extent of the damage in the province of about 1.7 million people.
“We are very concerned about the situation there,” Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said. “Our priority now is reaching as many people who need help as possible. Our focus is on rescue and relief operations.” Almendras said initial reports indicated storm surges reaching at least three metres swept through many areas in Leyte, including the capital city of Tacloban.
Haiyan was packing maximum winds of 235 km and gusts of up to 275 kph when it hit and went “island-hopping” in the Philippines, according to the national weather bureau.
Other weather organisations placed its maximum winds at 315 kph and gusts at 380 kph.
The storm weakened after making six landfalls in the eastern and central Philippines, with its maximum winds easing to 175 kph and gusts to 210 kph, the weather bureau said. It was expected to be out of the Philippines Saturday afternoon.
Meteorologists said Haiyan is the largest typhoon in the world since Typhoon Tip in October 1979, which killed nearly 100 people in Japan and Guam.
It is one of the strongest to hit the Philippines, which is battered by at least 20 cyclones every year. It was stronger than Typhoon Bopha that left more than 1,800 people dead or missing in the southern region of Mindanao in 2012.