Super Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Tacloban airport in the Philippines leaving a death toll of about 1,200 in its aftermath on Saturday. It’s being dubbed as the most powerful cyclone in three decades battered the country.
The storm left more several bodies scattered on the streets in Haiyan, a costal city that went through monster winds that tore roofs off buildings as giant waves washed away homes.
Legazpi residents are relocated to an evacuation center on Thursday, November 7. About 125,000 people took refuge in evacuation centers, and hundreds of flights were canceled. Haiyan’s wind strength makes it equivalent to an exceptionally strong Category 5 hurricane.
“Probably the casualty figure will increase as we get more information from remote areas, which have been cut off from communications,” said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF’s Philippines representative.
The casualties from the storm, which affected 4.3 million people in 36 provinces, occurred despite preparations that included the evacuation of more than 800,000 people, he said.
On Saturday, more than 330,000 people were still in 1,223 evacuation centers, and the government had accepted a U.N. offer of international aid.
The National Risk Reduction and Management Council said more than 70,000 families were affected, and nearly 350,000 people were displaced — inside and outside evacuation centers. Thousands of houses were destroyed, it said.
Tacloban suffered the greatest devastation, said Lt. Jim Aris Alago, information officer for Navy Central Command. “There are numbers of undetermined casualties found along the roads.”
“We expect the greatest number of casualties there,” Alago said, adding that 100 body bags had been sent to the area. People were wading through waist-high water, and overturned vehicles, downed utility poles and trees were blocking roads and delaying the aid effort.
Mobile services were down, and officials were relying on radios.
Another 100 residents in this city of 220,000 were injured, said Capt. John Andrews, deputy director of the national Civil Aviation Authority.
Roofs and windows were blown off of and out of many of the buildings left standing. Rescue crews were handing out ready-to-eat meals, clothing, blankets, medicine and water, Alago said.
However, the speed of the storm, which was clocked at 41 mph, meant residents didn’t have to hunker down long. Many emerged Saturday from their homes and shelters and trekked through streets littered with debris to supermarkets, looking for water and food. Several bodies were found at a chapel; a woman wept over one.