MANILA, Philippines (AP) — One of the strongest storms on record slammed into the central Philippines, reportedly killing at least 100 people, forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes and knocking out power and communications in several provinces.
A civil aviation official in the Philippines says he has received a report that more than 100 bodies are lying in the streets of a central city ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan.
Capt. John Andrews, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, says more than 100 others have been injured in the city of Tacloban on Leyte Island, where one of the strongest storms on record slammed on Friday.
Typhoon Haiyan left the Philippines early Saturday on a path toward Southeast Asia, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tweeted. Forecasters said the storm was expected to pick up renewed strength over the South China Sea on its way toward Vietnam.
Nearly 750,000 people in the Philippines were forced to flee their homes.
Weather officials said Haiyan had sustained winds of 235 kph (147 mph) with gusts of 275 kph (170 mph) when it made landfall. By those measurements, Haiyan would be comparable to a strong Category 4 hurricane in the U.S., nearly in the top category, a 5.
Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are the same thing. They are just called different names in different parts of the world.
Because of cut-off communications in the Philippines, it was impossible to know the full extent of casualties and damage. At least two people were electrocuted in storm-related accidents, one person was killed by a fallen tree and another was struck by lightning, official reports said.
Southern Leyte Gov. Roger Mercado said the typhoon ripped roofs off houses and triggered landslides that blocked roads.
The dense clouds and heavy rains made the day seem almost as dark as night, he said.
“When you’re faced with such a scenario, you can only pray, and pray and pray,” Mercado told The Associated Press by telephone, adding that mayors in the province had not called in to report any major damage.
“I hope that means they were spared and not the other way around,” he said. “My worst fear is there will be massive loss of lives and property.”