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Report: Up To 1,200 Dead From Typhoon Haiyan

8:34 AM, Nov 9, 2013   |    comments
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Photo: Getty Images

Calum MacLeod, Doyle Rice and Gary Strauss, USA TODAY

Up to 1,200 people have died as a result of Super Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippine Red Cross said Saturday, according to Reuters and CNN.

Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, crashed across the central islands of the Philippines Friday before heading west toward Vietnam.

There were reports of widespread power outages, flash floods, landslides and scores of buildings torn apart. Capt. John Andrews, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority, said civil aviation authorities in Tacloban reported that the seaside airport terminal was "ruined" by storm surges, though military planes were still able to land with relief aid.

Because communications in the Philippines were cut-off, it remained difficult to determine the full extent of casualties and damage.

"We expect the level of destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan to be extensive and devastating, and sadly we fear that many lives will be lost," said Anna Lindenfors, Philippines director of Save the Children.

"With this magnitude we know that the destruction is overwhelming," said Emma Amores, who was waiting outside Villamor Airbase in Manila, where a C-130 was loading relief supplies and personnel heading to hard-hit Tacloban. "From the images we saw on TV, it's highly likely our houses are gone. We just want to know that the family are all safe."

Romil Elinsuv, who is in Manila for work training, worried about his wife and 4-year-old son who are at their home in Palo, a town in the province of Leyte.

"I feel fear. I don't know what the situation is there," Elinsuv said. He said he spoke with his wife the day before. She assured him they were OK, but then the line went dead and he's been unable to reach her since.

Haiyan's sustained winds weakened Saturday to 101 mph. The center of the storm was moving away from the Philippines and into the South China Sea, but high winds were still battering the country. It was expected to make landfall Sunday morning in central Vietnam, with winds of about 125 mph, which is the strength of a Category 3 hurricane.

Vietnamese authorities in four central provinces began evacuating more than 500,000 people from high risk areas to government buildings, schools and other concrete homes able to withstand strong winds.

"The evacuation is being conducted with urgency and must be completed before 5 p.m.," disaster official Nguyen Thi Yen Linh by telephone from central Danang City, where some 76,000 are being moved to safety.

Hundreds of thousands of others were being taken to shelters in the provinces of Quang Ngai, Quang Nam and Thua Thien Hue. Schools were closed and two deputy prime ministers were sent to the region to direct the preparations.

Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the typhoon-prone Philippines, affected a huge swath of the country.

Southern Leyte Gov. Roger Mercado said the typhoon triggered landslides that blocked roads, uprooted trees and ripped roofs off houses around his residence.

The dense clouds and heavy rains made the day seem almost as dark as night, he said.

"When you're faced with such a scenario, you can only pray, and pray and pray," Mercado said in a telephone interview, adding that mayors in the province had not called in to report any major damage.

"I hope that means they were spared and not the other way around," he said. "My worst fear is there will be massive loss of lives and property."

The category-5 storm made landfall Friday morning at Guiuan, a small city in Samar province in the eastern Philippines. Weather officials said Haiyan had sustained winds of 147 mph with gusts of 170 mph when it made landfall.

Haiyan was be the fourth typhoon to hit the Philippines this year and the third Category 5 typhoon to make landfall in the Philippines since 2010, says meteorologist Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground. Just last year, Super Typhoon Bopha killed more than 1,900 people in the Philippines when it hit on Dec. 3, the deadliest typhoon in Philippine history.

"The Philippines lie in the most tropical cyclone-prone waters on Earth, and rarely escape a year without experiencing a devastating typhoon," says Masters A tropical cyclone is an all-encompassing term that includes typhoons, hurricanes, and cyclones, which have different names depending on where they form.

Since 1970, the Philippines has been hit by more tropical cyclones than any country on earth, except for China, according to the National Hurricane Center.

On average, about 30 tropical cyclones form in the western Pacific Ocean each year, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center reports. According to data from the warning center, an October record of seven typhoons developed in the western Pacific Ocean last month.

That doesn't include Cyclone Phailin, which became the strongest system to make landfall in India since 1999, coming ashore in the eastern state of Odisha in October, killing at least 44 people. Storms that form in the Indian Ocean - a separate "basin" from the Western Pacific -- are known as cyclones.

Rowena Pinky Jumamoy, a member of the Filipino Association in Richmond, Va. (FAACV) and a native of Inabang, Bohol, one of the provinces hit the hardest by Haiyan, made contact with Tian Cempron, a conservation fellow of the marine sanctuary project. "As of this morning, the news is that In one coastal village alone at least 30 houses were wiped out," Jumamoy said.

USA Today

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