Thousands dead in Philippines
TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) – Corpses hung from trees, were scattered on sidewalks or buried in flattened buildings – some of the 10 000 people believed killed in one Philippine city alone by ferocious Typhoon Haiyan that washed away homes and buildings with powerful winds and giant waves.
As the scale of devastation became clear today from one of the worst storms ever recorded, officials projected the death toll could climb even higher when emergency crews reach parts of the archipelago cut off by flooding and landslides. Looters raided grocery stores and gas stations in search of food, fuel and water as the government began relief efforts and international aid operations got underway.
Even in a nation regularly beset by earthquakes, volcanoes and tropical storms, Typhoon Haiyan appears to be the deadliest natural disaster on record.
Haiyan hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on Friday and quickly barrelled across its central islands, packing winds of 235 kilmoetres per hour (kph) or 147 miles per hour that gusted to 275kph, and a storm surge of six metres.
Its sustained winds weakened to 133 kph as it crossed the South China Sea before approaching northern Vietnam, where it was forecast to hit land early tomorrow. Authorities there evacuated hundreds of thousands of people.
Hardest hit in the Philippines was Leyte Island, where officials said there may be 10 000 dead in the provincial capital of Tacloban alone. Reports also trickled in from elsewhere on the island, as well as from neighboring islands, indicating hundreds more deaths, although it will be days before the full extent of the storm can be assessed.
“On the way to the airport we saw many bodies along the street,” said Philippine-born Australian Mila Ward, 53, who was waiting at the Tacloban airport to catch a military flight back to Manila, about 580 kilometres to the northwest. “They were covered with just anything – tarpaulin, roofing sheets, cardboard.”
She said she passed “well over 100” bodies.
In one part of Tacloban, a ship had been pushed ashore and sat amid damaged homes.
Haiyan inflicted serious damage to at least six of the archipelago’s more than 7 000 islands, with Leyte, neighboring Samar Island, and the northern part of Cebu appearing to bear the brunt of the storm. About four million people were affected by the storm, the national disaster agency said.
Reports from other affected islands indicated dozens, perhaps hundreds more deaths.
Video from Eastern Samar province’s Guiuan township – the first area where the typhoon made landfall – showed a trail of devastation. Many houses were flattened and roads were strewn with debris and uprooted trees. The ABS-CBN video showed several bodies on the street, covered with blankets.