Super Typhoon Haiyan battered the central Philippines, triggering landslides and storm surges that killed hundreds of people, destroyed an airport, cut power and phone lines and damaged crops before heading to Vietnam.
About 100 bodies were found on the streets in Tacloban City in Leyte province, where the year’s most powerful cyclone made landfall yesterday, John Andrews, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said today by phone. The death toll may reach 1,200, including 1,000 in Tacloban and 200 in Samar province, CNN said on its website, citing Gwen Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross.
“The report of damage is significant,” Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said in a televised briefing. “The report on the casualties is more alarming on the Tacloban side.”
More than 4 million Filipinos were affected by Haiyan, mostly in central provinces such as Visayas, before the storm left the country, the government said. The Philippines was the nation most affected by natural disasters in 2012, with more than 2,000 deaths, according to the Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. A 7.2-magnitude earthquake left 222 dead in Visayas on Oct. 15.
President Benigno Aquino said the government is prepared to use 23 billion pesos ($533 million) from various agencies and his discretionary fund for relief and rebuilding of disaster-ravaged towns and provinces.
“Reconstruction will be funded,” Aquino said during a televised briefing in Manila. The government doesn’t yet have the full extent of the devastation, he said.
Tacloban’s airport was destroyed and only the runway remains, Andrews said. “Very many” bodies were scattered on the streets of Tacloban, homes made of wood were wiped out and many roads have been rendered impassable by debris, Lieutenant Jim Alagao, a military spokesman, said by phone.
Storm surges may have caused deaths, Pang said in a phone interview earlier today, adding she received reports that winds were so strong they could knock down steel structures.
Aquino said there was massive devastation in Tacloban, citing Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who saw people walking dazed. “Tacloban isn’t as prepared as the others,” Aquino said, adding he plans to visit the area tomorrow.
At least 138 were confirmed dead, according to the 6 p.m. bulletin of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Almost 4.3 million people in 36 provinces were affected by Haiyan, with 342,137 of them displaced, including those being served in evacuation centers, the agency said. More than 3,400 houses were damaged, while four airports remain shut, the report said.
As of 1:30 p.m., Haiyan had left the Philippines and all storm alerts were removed, state weather forecaster Gladys Saludes said in a phone interview. As of 2 p.m., Haiyan was 709 kilometers (441 miles) west of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, said in a statement on its website.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung today ordered local officials to closely monitor Haiyan’s movement and called for boats to find shelter as the storm approaches. He also ordered authorities to reinforce houses, facilities, and move citizens away from dangerous areas.
Quang Nam province planned to evacuate more than 216,000 people by 5 p.m. today, according to a statement posted on the government’s website. Danang City plan to remove 73,000 people by 7 p.m., while Thua Thien-Hue expected to evacuate 113,000.
Haiyan’s center is forecast to be in the sea areas of Quang Ngai-Quang Tri provinces at 10 a.m. tomorrow, with likely wind speeds of 134 to 166 kilometers an hour, according to the country’s National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.
The middle of central Vietnam will experience heavy rain from late afternoon today, expanding to the northern part of central and northern Vietnam, according to the center.
Two C-130 cargo planes have arrived in Tacloban and Almendras said he made sure it was carrying body bags along with goods and medical supplies.
The Philippine National Police sent a contingent of 150 search-and-rescue troops, crime laboratory examiners and communication and electronic service technicians to help with recovery efforts, the PNP said in a statement earlier today.
Globe Telecom Inc., the country’s second-largest telecommunications company, said about 26 percent of its network in the central island group of Visayas has been “adversely affected” by the typhoon.
Robinsons Land Corp. said its mall in Tacloban will stay shut. Malls in Bacolod and Cebu, also in the Visayas, will resume operations, it said in a statement. Gaisano Mall in Tacloban was looted, according to local radio DZMM.
“The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami,” Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, head of the United Nations Disaster Assessment Coordination Team, said in a statement. “This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumble weed and the streets are strewn with debris.” Stampa’s team arrived in Tacloban this morning.
High winds have swept about half of the Philippines’ sugar cane-growing areas and a third of its rice-producing land, according to Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.
“Winds were so intense in this system that a lot of the crop is just going to be flattened,” said David Streit, an agricultural meteorologist with CWG.
As much as 25 percent of the rice and sugar in those areas may be damaged, Streit said by telephone yesterday.
Typhoon Haiyan’s total economic impact may reach $14 billion, about $2 billion of which will be insured, according to a report by Jonathan Adams, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Industries, citing Kinetic Analysis Corp.
Aquino said Nov. 7 Haiyan may cause more damage than Storm Bopha, which killed 1,067 and left 834 missing when that cyclone triggered landslides in Mindanao in 2012. Typhoon Ketsana killed more than 400 when it swamped the country’s capital Manila and parts of Luzon in 2009. Storm Washi killed more than 1,200 people in December 2011.
Inflation will remain within target this year even as the storm may push the costs of some commodities higher, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo. The impact on rice prices may be limited because much has been harvested, he said in a mobile-phone message yesterday.