As reported yesterday, Typhoon Haiyan – potentially the strongest storm to ever make landfall, and stronger than Katrina and Sandy combined – has come and left the Philippines (currently heading for Vietnam), and now the time has come to evaluate the damage and count the dead. Sadly, as Reuters reports, the devastation is absolutely massive and especially in the hardest hit city of Tacloban in the central Leyte province, may match the aftermath of the Fukushima tsunami: “This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed and the streets are strewn with debris.” Airport manager Efren Nagrama, 47, said water levels rose up to four metres (13 ft) in the airport. “It was like a tsunami. We escaped through the windows and I held on to a pole for about an hour as rain, seawater and wind swept through the airport. Some of my staff survived by clinging to trees. I prayed hard all throughout until the water subsided.”
And it’s not over yet: the following clip from The Weather Channel summarizes the current position and heading of the Typhoon:
But while the worst may be yet to come, for the Philippines it is bad enough as Reuters explains:
A day after Typhoon Haiyan churned through the Philippine archipelago in a straight line from east to west, rescue teams struggled to reach far-flung regions, hampered by washed out roads, many choked with debris and fallen trees.
The death toll is expected to rise sharply from the fast-moving storm, whose circumference eclipsed the whole country and which late on Saturday was heading for Vietnam.
Among the hardest hit was coastal Tacloban in central Leyte province, where preliminary estimates suggest more than 1,000 people were killed, said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, as water surges rushed through the city.
“An estimated more than 1,000 bodies were seen floating in Tacloban as reported by our Red Cross teams,” she told Reuters. “In Samar, about 200 deaths. Validation is ongoing.”
She expected a more exact number to emerge after a more precise counting of bodies on the ground in those regions.
Witnesses said bodies covered in plastic were lying on the streets. Television footage shows cars piled atop each other.
The Philippines has yet to restore communications with officials in Tacloban, a city of about 220,000. A government official estimated at least 100 were killed and more than 100 wounded, but conceded the toll would likely rise sharply.
The airport was nearly destroyed as raging seawaters swept through the city, shattering the glass of the airport tower, levelling the terminal and overturning nearby vehicles.
“Almost all houses were destroyed, many are totally damaged. Only a few are left standing,” said Major Rey Balido, a spokesman for the national disaster agency.
Local television network ABS-CBN showed images of looting in one of the city’s biggest malls, with residents carting away everything from appliances to suitcases and grocery items.
Airport manager Efren Nagrama, 47, said water levels rose up to four metres (13 ft) in the airport.
“It was like a tsunami. We escaped through the windows and I held on to a pole for about an hour as rain, seawater and wind swept through the airport. Some of my staff survived by clinging to trees. I prayed hard all throughout until the water subsided.”
Across the country, about a million people took shelter in 37 provinces after President Benigno Aquino appealed to those in the typhoon’s path to leave vulnerable areas.
“For casualties, we think it will be substantially more,” Aquino told reporters.
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Photos of the damage via the Weather Channel:
Finally, here is video evidence of what the stronger typhoon in history looks like on the ground: