Manila — Officials fear the death toll from Super Typhoon Haiyan may be over 10,000 in the Philippines, as reports from devastated areas begin to come in.
As the extend of the massive devastation became apparent and terrified locals spoke of storm surges as high as trees, authorities said the number killed in the coastal city of Tacloban alone could reach 10,000.
Leyte provincial Gov Dominic Petilla estimated the number killed in the area to be around 10,000. The figure was based on reports from village officials.
Most of the deaths were by drowning and from collapsed buildings, said reports.
The Philippine Red Cross had already estimated at least 1,000 were killed in Tacloban and 200 in Samar province, two of the hardest hit areas.
Those estimates were based on field reports from workers with the Philippine Red Cross.
The typhoon has passed over the Philippines and is expected to hit Vietnam later on Sunday.
Disruption of power, communication and transport has made assessing the casualties and damage difficult.
Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, said, “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.”
It was feared the death toll would rise sharply when rescue workers reached areas cut off by the storm.
In the coastal city of Tacloban, roads were either underwater or blocked by fallen trees and power lines, and debris from homes blown away by the typhoon. Bodies covered in plastic sheeting were lying in the streets, said reports.
The airport was destroyed, as well as most of the houses in Tacloban, according to reports.
“The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami,” said the head of the UN disaster assessment team sent to Tacloban. “This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed and the streets are strewn with debris.”