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article imageTyphoon Haiyan's death toll in Philippines could exceed 10,000

By Robert Myles     Nov 10, 2013 in World
Tacloban - The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan which struck the Philippines, Nov. 7, is likely to escalate to five figures as officials in the Philippine island of Leyte, hardest hit by the monster storm, began assessing the damage.
Typhoon Haiyan is now heading westwards across the South China Sea, reports BBC News, and is expected to hit Vietnam later Sunday. There, thousands of people have been evacuated from coastal areas though forecasters predict Typhoon Haiyan will have lost some of its intensity by the time it reaches the Vietnamese coast.
On the Philippine island of Leyte, meanwhile, the extent of the devastation caused by the fiercest typhoon ever to hit the archipelago was becoming apparent. The Philippine government had previously estimated the death toll from the typhoon in the hundreds but according to local Commissioner Elmer Soria, reported in Le Monde, Sunday, numbers of deaths are being revised upwards to an estimated 10,000.
Such was the force of Typhoon Haiyan, with winds measuring 295 kilometres per hour (about 185 mph), that officials estimated between 70 and 80 percent of structures in the path of the storm have been flattened. The devastation evoked memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 when Indonesian islands were hardest hit.
Surveying the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines’ Interior Minister Manuel Roxas said, “If you can imagine a band one kilometre wide right along the coast: all the houses, everything is destroyed. They were swept away like matchsticks.”
The island of Leyte, located in the eastern part of the Philippine archipelago with a population of 1.7 million, appears to have taken the brunt of the storm. In Leyte’s main city of Tacloban (pop. 221,174), houses were flattened by a storm surge which accompanied the extremely high winds. In Tacloban, there are worries that the lack of electricity, clean water and little food could see the death toll in this one city alone exceed 10,000.
Leyte was by no means the only island affected. Typhoon Haiyan’s storm front was 600 kilometers (375 miles wide) and Eastern Samar province on Samar Island also suffered extensive devastation. There, the towns of Giporlos and Guiuan were said to be 95 percent in ruins, with no clear indications of those killed and injured. The population of Giporlos is around 12,000, whilst that of the port city of Guinan is around 40,000.
Such is the widespread destruction caused by the Philippines typhoon that Interior Minister Roxas described it as overwhelming, with some places being a wasteland of mud and debris.
Relief effort underway
An international relief effort is underway, but given the scale of the disaster, relief organizations face a huge task. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel [Unlink] said the United States was providing helicopters, planes, ships and equipment for search and rescue operations. Today, Sunday, Australia and New Zealand pledged initial aid of nearly half a million U.S. dollars to the Filipino Red Cross with more support likely to follow as the situation develops. The government of the Philippines has deployed 15,000 soldiers to the hardest hit areas, along with planes and helicopters loaded with supplies.
But much more relief will be needed. While the death toll remains unknown, the number of those affected by the storm is estimated to exceed four million, says the Philippines' government.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos conceded initial estimates of the death toll from Typhoon Haiyan, put at 1,200, were likely to escalate. Ms. Amos told the UN News Service, “Sadly, it is likely that this figure will rise.”
She added, "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.”
Both UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) are mobilising a massive relief effort. Praveen Agrawal, the WFP’s representative in the Philippines said, “The devastation we saw in Tacloban today was shocking. People have lost their homes and livelihoods, and the damage to infrastructure is substantial."
Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, is one of the strongest storms ever recorded. It made landfall at Guiuan, Eastern Samar, with sustained wind speeds of 295 kilometers per hour (kph), blasting through the 252 kph threshold for a Category 5 hurricane, the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale’s highest category.
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