Super Typhoon Haiyan’s Death Toll Could Pass 10,000, Officials Say

The death toll in the Philippines from Super Typhoon Haiyan could pass 10,000, according to a senior police official on Sunday. The storm, which could be the strongest to make landfall in recorded history, devastated coastal towns and the capital of Leyte province.

Haiyan destroyed about 70 to 80 percent of the area in its path as it tore through the archipelago. Reuters reports that the typhoon brought wind gusts up to 170 mph and caused a storm surge that produced waves 16 to 19 feet tall.

The national government and disaster agency haven’t confirmed the new figure, which is significantly higher than initial estimates on Saturday of 1,000 deaths. However, chief superintendent Elmer Soria, a regional police director, commented:

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

Super Typhoon Haiyan brought major destruction to Tacloban city in central Leyte, as it bore the brunt of the storm. Water flooded villages as far as half a mile from the shoreline, leaving floating bodies and roads choked with debris behind. Tangled power lines and flattened homes also remained in the wake of the powerful typhoon.

The Associated Press notes that Tacloban has a population of 200,000 people, and the majority of deaths in the city were by drowning or collapsed buildings. Tacloban city administrator Tecson Lim explained that about 300-400 bodies were already recovered. He added that the death toll in Tacloban alone “could go up to 10,000.”

That means that the death toll for the entire country would be over 10,000, if initial estimates are correct. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas visited Tacloban on Saturday to review the damage. He later told reporters:

“The rescue operation is ongoing. We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured. All systems, all vestiges of modern living — communications, power, water — are all down. Media is down, so there is no way to communicate with the people in a mass sort of way.”

The US and other governments and agencies are mounting a massive relief effort to help the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

[Image by NOAA, NASA]