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    At least 10,000 dead in Philippines from super typhoon, official says

    The national government and disaster agency have not confirmed the figure, a sharp increase from initial estimates on Saturday of at least 1,000 deaths.

    One of the most powerful storms ever recorded has killed at least 10,000 people in the central Philippines province of Leyte, a senior police official said on Sunday, with coastal towns and the regional capital devastated by huge waves.

    Typhoon Haiyan destroyed about 70 to 80 percent of the area in its path as it tore through the province, said chief superintendent Elmer Soria, a regional police director. It not only brought wind gusts of around 275 kph (170 mph), it also caused a storm surge and whipped up waves of 5 to 6 metres (yards).

    The national government and disaster agency have not confirmed the figure, a sharp increase from initial estimates on Saturday of at least 1,000 deaths.

    “We had a meeting last night with the governor and the other officials. The governor said based on their estimate, 10,000 died,” Soria told Reuters. “The devastation is so big.”

    Residents walks past a truck slammed on a tree after a super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, central Philippines on November 9, 2013. - Reuters

    Haiyan, a category 5 typhoon that churned through the Philippine archipelago in a straight line from east to west, has weakened significantly before hitting northern Vietnam on Sunday.

    Tacloban city in central Leyte province bore the brunt of Haiyan, which flooded villages as far as one kilometre from the shore, leaving floating bodies and roads choked with debris from fallen trees, tangled power lines and flattened homes.

    “From a helicopter, you can see the extent of devastation. From the shore and moving a kilometre inland, there are no structures standing. It was like a tsunami,” said Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas, who had been in Tacloban since before the typhoon struck the city of 220,000 people, located about 580 km (360 miles) southeast of Manila.

    “I don’t know how to describe what I saw. It’s horrific,” Roxas said, adding he sent out patrols to stop widespread looting by desperate residents looking for food and water.

    A truck is seen slammed on a tree after strong winds brought by super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, central Philippines November 9, 2013. - Reuters

    City officials said they were struggling to retrieve bodies and send relief supplies to survivors.

    “The dead are on the streets, they are in their houses, they are under the debris, they are everywhere,” said Tecson John Lim, a Tacloban city administrator.

    New Zealand, Australia send aid

    New Zealand and Australia on Sunday donated an immediate $490,000 towards relief efforts in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines and said additional support could follow.

    Wellington chipped in US$124,000 and Canberra gave US$366,000.

    New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said their aid had gone to the Red Cross to help the organisation maintain emergency supplies and carry out impact assessments following the devastation of super typhoon Haiyan.

    “New Zealand will consider further support as the full extent of the damage becomes clear,” he said, following one of the most powerful typhoons in history, believed to have killed 1,200 people in the Philippines, according to the Red Cross.

    A damaged airport is seen after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, central Philippines, on November 9, 2013. - Reuters

    McCully’s Australian counterpart Julie Bishop said she was saddened by the loss of life and damage to homes and property.

    “We’re immediately providing pre-positioned emergency supplies, including sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, water containers and health and hygiene kits for families devastated by the typhoon,” she said.

    “Two Australian disaster experts are already on the ground assisting the Philippine government and the United Nations to conduct a rapid needs assessment in those areas worst affected.”

    She added that “we stand ready to provide further assistance if required”.

    Haiyan is now headed to Vietnam and is expected to make landfall early Sunday, with millions of people thought to be in its path.

    (Agencies)

     
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