Though the official death toll from Typhoon Haiyan now stands at 1,563, officials in the Philippines believe as many as 10,000 people were killed in the city of Tacloban alone. The typhoon, which struck the Philippines on Friday, is now being called the largest storm surge in modern history.
Shattered buildings line every road of this once-thriving city of 220,000 and many of the streets are still so clogged with debris from nearby buildings that they are barely discernible. The civilian airport terminal here has shattered walls and gaping holes in the roof where steel beams protrude, twisted and torn by winds far more powerful than those of Hurricane Katrina when it made landfall near New Orleans in 2005.
Decomposing bodies still lie along the roads, like the corpse in a pink, short-sleeved shirt and blue shorts facedown in a puddle 100 yards from the airport. Just down the road lies a church that was supposed to be an evacuation center but is littered with the bodies of those who drowned inside.
According to the Associated Press, the provincial governor of Leyte—the island on which Tacloban is located—told his regional police chief that there were approximately 10,000 deaths in Tacloban, most of them from drowning and collapsed buildings. "There was death everywhere," one witness told the Los Angeles Times.
The local government in Leyte has declared a state of emergency, and President Benigno Aquino III has said he's considering declaring martial law in Tacloban.
About 1.7 million children live in areas affected by the typhoon, according to UNICEF, and an estimated 90 percent of all housing in some parts of central Philippines were destroyed by the storm. "The devastation is ... I don't have the words for it," Interior Secretary Mar Roxas told the Associated Press. "It's really horrific. It's a great human tragedy."
[Images via AP]