Super Typhoon Haiyan kills 100 in central Philippines

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Residents stand along a sea wall as Super Typhoon Haiyan hits Legaspi, Albay province. Photographer: Charism Sayat/AFP via Getty Images

Super Typhoon Haiyan battered the central Philippines, triggering landslides and storm surges that left 100 people dead, destroyed an airport, cut power and phone lines and damaged crops before heading to Vietnam.

About 100 bodies were found on the streets in Tacloban City in Leyte province, where the year's most powerful cyclone made landfall yesterday, John Andrews, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said today by phone as he was traveling to the city. The Philippine Red Cross received a request for 100 body bags in Tacloban, Secretary General Gwen Pang said in a phone interview.

"One hundred is the number being discussed; it's probably at that range as of now," Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said in a televised briefing. "The report of damage is significant. The report on the casualties is more alarming on the Tacloban side. There are reports of 100 casualties and we are waiting to confirm that."

More than 4 million Filipinos were affected by Haiyan, mostly in central provinces in Visayas, before the storm exited the Philippines at noon, the government said. The Philippines was the nation most affected by natural disasters in 2012, with more than 2,000 deaths, according to the Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. On Oct. 15, 222 were killed in Visayas after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

Tacloban's airport was destroyed and only the runway remains, Andrews said. "Very many" bodies are scattered on the streets of Tacloban, homes made of wood are wiped out and many roads have been rendered impassable by debris, Lieutenant Jim Alagao, a military spokesman, said by phone.

Storm surges

Storm surges may have caused deaths, Pang said, adding she received reports that winds were so strong they could knock down steel structures. It's difficult to ascertain the deaths and damage because communication lines to Leyte are still bogged down, she said.

As of 1:30 p.m., Haiyan had exited the Philippines and all storm alerts were removed, state weather forecaster Gladys Saludes said in a phone interview. As of 2 p.m., Haiyan was 709 kilometers west of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said in a statement on its website.

Vietnam bound

Haiyan's center is forecast to be in the sea areas of Vietnam's Quang Ngai-Quang Tri provinces at 10 a.m. tomorrow, with likely wind speeds of 134 to 166 kilometers an hour, according to the country's National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

The middle part of central Vietnam will experience heavy rain from late afternoon on Nov. 11, expanding to the northern part of central Vietnam and North Vietnam, according to the center.

Two C-130 cargo planes have arrived in Tacloban and Almendras said he made sure it was carrying body bags along with goods and medical supplies.

The Philippine National Police are sending a contingent of 150 search-and-rescue troops, crime laboratory examiners and communication and electronic service technicians to help with recovery efforts, the PNP said in a statement.

Communications cut

Globe Telecom Inc. (GLO), the country's second-largest telecommunications company, said about 26 percent of its network in the central island group of Visayas has been "adversely affected" by the typhoon. Communication services in Tacloban, Aklan, Biliran, Capiz, Eastern Samar and Leyte, have yet to be restored, it said in a statement. Services will probably be restored in the next 48 hours, it said.

Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) said its mall in Tacloban will stay shut. Malls in Bacolod and Cebu, also in the Visayas, will resume operations, it said in a statement.

High winds have swept about half of the Philippines' sugar cane-growing areas and a third of its rice-producing land, according to Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

"Winds were so intense in this system that a lot of the crop is just going to be flattened," said David Streit, an agricultural meteorologist with CWG.

As much as 20 to 35 percent of the rice and sugar in those areas may be damaged, Streit said by telephone yesterday.

Economic impact

Typhoon Haiyan's total economic impact may reach $14 billion, with the insured portion probably almost $2 billion, according to a report by Jonathan Adams, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Industries, citing Kinetic Analysis Corp.

President Benigno Aquino said Nov. 7 Haiyan may cause more damage than Storm Bopha, which killed 1,067 and left 834 missing when that cyclone triggered landslides in Mindanao in 2012. Typhoon Ketsana killed more than 400 when it swamped the country's capital Manila and parts of Luzon in 2009. Storm Washi killed more than 1,200 people in December 2011.

Inflation will remain within target this year even as the storm may push the costs of some commodities higher, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo. The impact on rice prices may be limited as much has been harvested, he said in a mobile-phone message yesterday.

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