Typhoon Haiyan slammed the Philippines, with the death toll reaching at least 1,200 people and expected to grow.
The super storm was measured by forecasters as the most powerful typhoon the world has seen in decades, at least three times more powerful than Hurricane Katrina in terms of sheer power. One day after the typhoon rocked through the Philippines, officials have tried to put an estimate to the death toll.
Government officials put the official typhoon Philippines death toll at 138 on Saturday night, but the Red Cross has the real number at least 10 times larger.
“We estimate 1,000 people were killed in Tacloban and 200 in Samar province,” said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross.
Typhoon Haiyan brought not only damaging winds and heavy rains, but also caused flash flooding and landslides. The storm, which was estimated at 500 miles wide, also brought a storm surge that was more than 20 feet high.
There are still many remote areas that government officials have yet to reach, and the damage from the super storm was so vast that it may take days, or even weeks, to recover all the victims.
“The rescue operation is ongoing. We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured,” said Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. “All systems, all vestiges of modern living – communications, power, water – all are down. Media is down, so there is no way to communicate with the people in a mass sort of way.”
To make rescue and recovery efforts more complicated, many areas of the Philippines are still recovering from a 7.1 earthquake that struck last month. The quake left close to 1,000 people dead and at least 222 injured, with damage to an estimated 350,000 homes.
The typhoon reached 4.3 million people in 36 provinces, with 800,000 people evacuated. There were still more than 330,000 people in evacuation centers around the nation, and officials from the Philippines have accepted an offer from the UN for international aid.
The Red Cross said it would be until Sunday before there was a more accurate Typhoon Haiyan death toll from the Philippines.