The death toll of a super typhoon that struck the Philippines is expected to rise on Sunday after at least 10,000 people were killed in one province in Tacloban city on Leyte Island.
Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, struck six central Philippine islands on Friday, wiping away buildings and leveling seaside homes with ferocious winds of 235 kilometers per hour.
The super-typhoon weakened on Sunday as it approached central and northern Vietnam where authorities evacuated more than 500,000 people. It was forecast to make landfall Monday morning, according to AP.
“The rescue operation is ongoing. We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured,” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas was quoted as saying by AP 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,” he said.
The U.S. and other governments and agencies were mounting a major relief effort.
The Pentagon announced Saturday that it was providing the Philippines with naval and aviation resources in the wake of the country's devastating typhoon.
A statement said that U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would make helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and surface maritime search and rescue equipment available after a request from the Philippines government, according to Agence France-Presse.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered his condolences and said U.N. humanitarian agencies were working closely with the Philippine government to respond rapidly with emergency assistance, according to a statement released by the U.N. spokesperson’s office, AFP reported.
“The government estimates that some 4.3 million people are affected, across 36 provinces, and initial assessments show that thousands of homes have been destroyed, roads are impassable and people need food, water, shelter and power,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator Valerie Amos was quoted as saying by AFP.
Even by the standards of the Philippines, which is battered by many natural disasters with about 20 typhoons a year, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the latest typhoon has shocked the impoverished nation of 96 million people.
(With AFP and the Associated Press)