‘10,000’ feared dead in Leyte – police


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(UPDATED) Official government toll at 151; Red Cross count at 1,200; death toll still expected to rise, with reports from large areas of the disaster zone yet to reach authorities

PILE OF BODIES. Dead bodies pile inside the Fisherman's Village Elementary School in Tacloban city. The school was an evacuation center before typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. Photo by AFP/Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The provincial government of Leyte said at least 10,000 of its residents were killed by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan), regional police said on Sunday, November 10. 

“We had a meeting last night (Saturday, November 9) with the governor and based on the government’s estimates, initially there are 10,000 casualties (dead),” Chief Supt Elmer Soria told reporters in Tacloban City, the devastated provincial capital. “About 70 to 80 percent of the houses and structures along the typhoon’s path were destroyed.”

Reports quoting Tacloban administrator Tecson Lim said the death toll in the city alone “could go up to 10,000.”

Other parts of Eastern Visayas that also bore the brunt of Yolanda’s fury continue to be cut off from communications more than two days after the storm made landfall.

The figures are far higher than the official death toll in the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) report as of 6 am Sunday which said at least 151 people have died in the aftermath of Yolanda, with 23 injured and 5 missing.

“Many of the additional fatalities came from Calabarzon, MIMAROPA and Western Visayas,” NDRRMC spokesperson Major Reynaldo Balido was quoted as saying by state-run Philippine News Agency.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas earlier admitted authorities are finding it difficult to produce an accurate count of the extent of casualties and damage after communication lines in hard-hit areas were cut off. Telecommunication companies Globe Telecome and Smart Communications on Saturday said it would take 2 to 3 days to restore services.  

Earlier, the Philippine Red Cross said 1,200 people were believed to have died in just two provinces – Eastern Samar and Leyte. 

“Sadly, it is likely that this figure will rise,” UN humanitarian coordinator Valerie Amos said in a statement. 

At least 200 people were believed to have died in Eastern Samar, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evadone said Saturday. At least two towns – Giporlos and Guiuan, where the typhoon first made landfall – were reportedly totally ruined.

A few dozen other deaths had been confirmed in some of these areas, but authorities admitted they were completely overwhelmed and many communities were still yet to be contacted.

“We’re still establishing command and control through logistics and communications,” military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala told Agence France-Presse.

About 130 kilometers to the west of Tacloban, the popular tourist islands of Malapascua appeared to be in ruins, according to aerial photographs, with people there unaccounted for so far.

“The coast guard commander cannot communicate with the area. They are cut off in communications and from power,” regional civil defence director Minda Morante told Agence France-Presse.

DEVASTATION. A man searches for belongings washed ashore by the typhoon that devastated the city of Tacloban. Photo by EPA/Dennis Sabangan

P7 million worth of damage so far  

As of 6 am Sunday, Yolanda has incurred P7,215,813.75 worth of damage to infrastructure and agriculture. But this figure only includes Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro and Dinagat Island. 

Damage in the hardest-hit provinces in the Visayas, and other parts of the country, have yet to be accounted for. 

At least 982,252 families of 4,459,468 persons affected in 1,741 barangays in 343 municipalities and 39 cities in 36 provinces have been affected by the super typhoon. 

A total of 101,762 families or 477,735 persons have been reportedly forced to flee their homes, with an estimated 86,513 families, 403,503 persons presently staying at 1,425 evacuation centers. 

Yolanda left at least 3,840 damaged houses, with 2,071 totally destroyed. In Tacloban, government officials said only a few homes were left standing. 

Members of a UN Disaster and Assessment Coordination team arrived on Saturday in Tacloban, one of the worst affected areas in Leyte province.

“The United Nations remains on standby to mobilize any support that the people of the Philippines require from the international community,” Amos said.  – With Agence France Presse, Angela Casauay/Rappler.com

Help the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan). Visit Rappler’s list of ongoing relief operations in your area. Tell us about your relief and recovery initiatives, email move.ph@rappler.com or tweet us @moveph. 

Visit rappler.com/typhoon-yolanda for the latest updates on Typhoon Yolanda.

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