Tacloban, Philippines — Update: Authorities expect a “very high number of fatalities” after Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest on record devastated central-coastal Philippines, cutting communications and severely damaging an airport in one of the hardest-hit regions.
A senior regional police official and a city administrator in the typhoon-ravaged Tacloban city in the central Philippines say the death toll there could reach 10,000 people, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier — One day after Super Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines, officials expect that the death toll will reach 1,200 or more, with the vast majority killed in Tacloban.
“We estimate 1,000 people were killed in Tacloban and 200 in Samar province,” said Gwendolyn Pang, who is the secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross. The two coastal areas where Haiyan hit first Friday across the archipelago, have been hit the worst.
The Red Cross said it would have more precise numbers for the media by Sunday, but the government’s official toll as of Saturday evening was 138 dead, 14 injured and 4 are missing.
But in reality, experts say that it will take days to get the full scope of the damage wrought by a typhoon described as one of the strongest to make landfall in recorded history.
“Probably the casualty figure will increase as we get more information from remote areas, which have been cut off from communications,” said Tomoo Hozumi, a UNICEF representative for the Philippines.
The storm affected 4.3 million people in 36 provinces, and mass casualties happened despite government preparations, including the evacuation of more than 800,000 people.
On Saturday, local Philippines time, there were more than 330,000 people who were in 1,223 evacuation centers, prompting the government to accept 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 have been displaced — both inside and outside evacuation centers. The typhoon has literally destroyed thousands of houses, said the Management Council.
Tacloban has, a city of roughly 220,000 people, by far suffered the greatest amount of devastation, said Lt. Jim Aris Alago, who is an information officer for Navy Central Command. “There are numbers of undetermined casualties found along the roads.”
Thus far, officials have already found more than 100 bodies on the streets of the coastal city, which is depicted above in pictures taken by CNN correspondents.
“We expect the greatest number of casualties there,” Alago said.
Capt. John Andrews, deputy director of the national Civil Aviation Authority, said that another 100 Tacloban residents were injured.
The speed of the storm — which was 41 mph — actually minimized what could have been far more devastation. Still, many bodies were found in open as others emerged from their homes, including several at a chapel, which CNN reported one woman wept over.
The Philippine Red Cross succeeded in getting its assessment team in to Tacloban, but logistical challenges have prevented the Red Cross from getting its main team of aid workers and equipment to the city of Tacloban, says Philippine National Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon.
“We really are having access problems,” he said. The city’s airport was shut to commercial flights, and it would be three days before a land route was open, so organizers were considering chartering a boat for the 1½-to-2-day trip, he said. “It really is an awful, awful situation.”
People’s Pundit Daily will continue to update readers on the situation, but as you may imagine, a lot of people need a lot of things, including basic provisions.
World Food Programme spokeswoman Bettina Luescher, said the U.N. group was pooling together its global resources to send enough food to feed 120,000 people. “These high-energy biscuits will keep them alive,” she said.
She said, the world body was also dispatching IT teams and telecommunications equipment to help other humanitarian groups to coordinate their efforts once they actually reach the difficult to reach area.
She noted that much of the infrastructure — including basic roads, bridges, airports, and ports — have likely been destroyed or damaged and that the government could use help with logistics.
Luescher pleaded for financial support from the international community and directed those wishing to donate to http://wfp.org/typhoon.
“Those are families like you and me, and they just need our help right now,” she said.