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1,200 DEAD.. SUPERTYPHOON HAIYAN; And storm's toll of carnage set to soar.

Byline: Lewis Panther

RESCUERS were appalled to see more than 1,200 bodies floating in streets after the 235mph supertyphoon Haiyan scythed across the Philippines, the Red Cross said yesterday.

And experts expect to find many more thousands have been killed by the storm - described as "one of the strongest in recorded history".

The city of Tacloban, capital of Leyte island in the Philippines, took the brunt of Haiyan on Friday morning when it was at its strongest.

Red Cross chief Gwendolyn Pang said: "An estimated more than 1,200 bodies were seen floating in Tacloban. In Samar province about 200 deaths. Validation is ongoing."

The Category Five vortex blasted apart buildings and whipped up 19ft waves like tsunamis in the poverty-stricken group of islands, popular with British tourists.

Whole towns were wiped from the face of the planet. About four million people have been affected.

A Red Cross spokesman said: "We now fear that thousands will have lost their lives." The charity's chairman in the Philippines, Richard Gordon, said: "There is no actual body count although there are many, many dead and we are preparing for the mass management of bodies.

"We haven't reached all the towns. Many of the coastal areas are badly hit. It's only just beginning.

"The reality is it was a real big demonic typhoon.

"It swamped a lot of people and they were caught unaware. It was like a series of little tidal waves that hit them and killed them. We are sending out body bags because there are many dead."

Aid agencies struggled to reach Tacloban as the airport was badly damaged by winds and floods from a storm surge which saw a 4ft rise in sea level. Only military flights have been able to operate.

Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, head of the UN disaster team sent to the city, said: "The last time I saw something of this scale was after the Indian Ocean tsunami.

"This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed and the streets are strewn with debris." Rescue efforts were hampered by ripped-up trees and downed power lines.

Authorities also had to deal with looting reports as disaster victims desperately searched for food.

Others were simply trying to find their family alive. One woman told a TV crew: "I'm looking for my grandmother, my mother, my father and my child who I accidentally let go of during the typhoon."

Survivor Sandra Conception said the storm was "terrifying" adding: "Most just hid in their closets because their roofs were blown off." Aaron Aspi, of World Vision, said: "We get 25 cyclones per year but I've never seen winds like this. If I had not hung on to railings I would have been blown away."

Paul Knightley, of forecasters MeteoGroup, described Haiyan as "one of the strongest typhoons ever seen before on the planet in the modern age". He said: "It is a incredibly powerful storm, which has moved through the Philippines.

"No doubt we will see all sorts of damage has been caused.

"As far as tropical storms go, this is about the top of the ladder. To get gales approaching 200mph as an average wind speed - you're talking the top few per cent of all storms that have ever occurred.

"It may be one of the, if not the, strongest land-falling storm we've seen for many years, possibly in recorded history."

A British team of humanitarian experts is flying out to the country to assist the UK Government in targeting its aid. Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire MP said: "There are currently no reports of British nationals killed or injured.

"The British Embassy in Manila has been offering consular advice to British nationals and those wishing to contact family and friends."

A British Red Cross appeal has already raised more than PS100,000. US Secretary of State John Kerry said America stood "ready to help".

The killer typhoon - three times the force of hurricane St Jude which swept across Britain two weeks ago - is now heading west across the South China Sea towards Vietnam.

lewis.panther@people.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

EYE ON THE STORM: Satellite view

KILLED: Mother weeps over son

STRETCHER: Woman at Tacloban

WRECKED: Homes near city airport

DEVASTATION: A mother and son in shattered city Tacloban yesterday
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Nov 10, 2013
Words:716
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