*(Via Mail & Guardian) – One of the most powerful storms ever recorded 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.
Super typhoon Haiyan destroyed about 70 to 80% of the area in its path as it tore through the province on Friday, said chief superintendent Elmer Soria, a regional police director.
Most of the deaths appear to have been caused by surging sea water strewn with debris that many described as similar to a tsunami, which levelled houses and drowned hundreds of people.
The national government and disaster agency have not confirmed the latest estimate of deaths, a sharp increase from initial estimates on Saturday of at least 1 000 killed.
“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.”
Haiyan, a Category Five typhoon that churned through the Philippine archipelago in a straight line from east to west, packing wind gusts of around 275km/h, weakened significantly before hitting northern Vietnam on Sunday.
Leyte province’s capital of Tacloban, with a population of 220 000, bore the brunt of Haiyan, which was possibly the strongest storm to date to make landfall.
Get the rest of this Reuters report at Mail & Guardian.