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Relief and disaster response teams began to assess the damage a day after Typhoon Haiyan tore through a number of provinces in central and eastern Philippines.
Tacloban, capital of Leyte province, appears to have been hit the hardest with officials saying that hundreds of homes had been flattened, trees and roads uprooted, and hundreds of bodies floating in flooded towns and villages.
The Philippine Red Cross estimates that at least 1,200 people may have died just in Tacloban, which is located 580km southeast of Manila.
With many roads destroyed, relief workers have had to look for alternative routes to reach remote areas, but Interior Secretary Max Roxas, who arrived in Tacloban Saturday said rescue operations were ongoing.
He also told Filipinos to prepare for the worst.
“We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured. All systems, all vestiges of modern living – communications, power water, all are down. Media is down, so there is no way to communicate with the people in a mass sort of way,” he told the media.
Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm this year and one of the most powerful ever recorded, made landfall in central Philippines early Friday with winds reaching up to 240 km/h and gusts of 275 km/h.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, at least 800,000 people have been evacuated from towns and villages in some 20 provinces.
The UN has dispatched an aid assessment team to determine the food, water and shelter needs of those displaced.