Tacloban City: Hundreds Dead in City and Leyte Province After Typhoon

November 8, 2013 Updated: November 11, 2013

At least 118 people were killed in Tacloban City and Palo town in Leyte Province during Typhoon Yolanda, or Haiyan, on Friday and Saturday.

UPDATE on Sunday: Regional police chief Elmer Soria said he was briefed by Leyte provincial Gov. Dominic Petilla late Saturday and told there were about 10,000 deaths in the province, mostly by drowning and from collapsed buildings. The governor’s figure was based on reports from village officials in areas where Typhoon Haiyan slammed Friday.

Tacloban city administrator Tecson Lim said that the death toll in the city alone “could go up to 10,000.” Tacloban is the Leyte provincial capital of 200,000 people and the biggest city on Leyte Island.

At least 138 people were confirmed dead in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. But Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Gwen Pang said that agency field staff in the region estimated the toll was about 1,000. Pang, however, emphasized that it was “just an estimate.”

But after arriving in Tacloban on Saturday, Interior Secretary Max Roxas said it was too early to know how many people had died in the storm, which was heading toward Vietnam after moving away from the Philippines.

“The rescue operation is ongoing, we expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured,” he said. “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.”

The typhoon slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday, wiping away buildings and leveling seaside homes. At least 118 of the confirmed deaths were on hardest-hit Leyte Island, where Tacloban is located, said national disaster agency spokesman Maj. Reynaldo Balido.

“Almost all houses were destroyed, many are totally damaged. Only a few houses are left standing, but with partial damages,” Major Rey Balido told Reuters.

“Our disaster officials can’t give a number on casualties yet, the communication lines are down,” Balido said. “But I asked our teams to send us even a crude body count, they are just using a satellite phone and the signal is poor.”

GMA Network reporter Jiggy Manicad said that he saw at least 10 bodies in a school near Palo and 12 dead in a “church near Tacloban.”

Manicad said that around 20 people were dead along a pier near the shore. Palo was “totally isolated,” he added, due to downed trees and power lines.

According to CNN, the storm first hit Tacloban and Dulag, bringing a storm surge of 40 to 50 feet.

ABS-CBN News also reported that at least one C-130 aircraft was heading to Tacloban.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said they had no contact with units in Tacloban since yesterday.

Video footage uploaded from Tacloban during the typhoon showed streets filled with storm surge and debris.

Other footage showed roofs ripped off buildings.

The Philippine Star reported that Tacloban’s airport will be closed until Sunday due to the storm damage. 

Several dozen flights in the central and southern Philippines were canceled over the storm, AP reported. A storm surge estimated at around 15 feet damaged the seaside airport in Tacloban city. 

Andrews told AP that workers moved the tower and were safe but did not elaborate. He said that communications were cut.

“They’ve been incommunicado. The last message we got from them was that the airport was ruined,” he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement saying the United States would lend a hand.

“Having so recently had my own visit to the Philippines prevented by another powerful storm, I know that these horrific acts of nature are a burden that you have wrestled with and courageously surmounted before. Your spirit is strong,” Kerry said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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The Associated Press contributed to this report.