MANILA — Up to 1,200 people have died as a result of Super Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippine Red Cross said Saturday, according to Reuters and CNN.
Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, crashed across the central islands of the Philippines Friday before heading west toward Vietnam.
There were reports of widespread power outages, flash floods, landslides and scores of buildings torn apart. Capt. John Andrews, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority, said civil aviation authorities in Tacloban reported that the seaside airport terminal was "ruined" by storm surges, though military planes were still able to land with relief aid.
Because communications in the Philippines were cutoff, it remained difficult to determine the full extent of casualties and damage.
"We expect the level of destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan to be extensive and devastating, and sadly we fear that many lives will be lost," said Anna Lindenfors, Philippines director of Save the Children.
"With this magnitude we know that the destruction is overwhelming," said Emma Amores, who was waiting outside Villamor Airbase in Manila, where a C-130 was loading relief supplies and personnel heading to hard-hit Tacloban. "From the images we saw on TV, it's highly likely our houses are gone. We just want to know that the family are all safe."
Romil Elinsuv, who is in Manila for work training, worried about his wife and 4-year-old son who are at their home in Palo, a town in the province of Leyte.
"I feel fear. I don't know what the situation is there," Elinsuv said. He said he spoke with his wife the day before. She assured him they were OK, but then the line went dead, and he's been unable to reach her since.
The category-5 storm made landfall Friday morning at Guiuan, a small city in Samar province in the eastern Philippines. Weather officials said Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the typhoon-prone Philippines, had sustained winds of 147 mph with gusts of 170 mph when it made landfall.
Haiyan's sustained winds weakened Saturday to 101 mph. The center of the storm was moving away from the Philippines and into the South China Sea, but high winds were still battering the country. The storm was expected to make landfall Sunday morning in central Vietnam.
Vietnamese authorities in four central provinces began evacuating more than 500,000 people from high risk areas to government buildings, schools and other concrete homes able to withstand strong winds.
"The evacuation is being conducted with urgency and must be completed before 5 p.m.," disaster official Nguyen Thi Yen Linh by telephone from central Danang City, where some 76,000 are being moved to safety.
Hundreds of thousands of others were being taken to shelters in the provinces of Quang Ngai, Quang Nam and Thua Thien Hue. Schools were closed and two deputy prime ministers were sent to the region to direct the preparations.
Contributing: Doyle Rice and Gary Strauss reported from McLean, Va.; Calum MacLeod from China; Korina Lopez, Michael Winter, USA TODAY; Nick Penzenstadler, The Post-Crescent in Appleton WI.; Associated Press.