Red Cross officials say at least 1,200 people have been killed by Typhoon Haiyan in two worst-hit areas of Philippines after the massive storm swept through the Southeast Asian country on Friday.
Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the Philippine Red Cross, said on Saturday the numbers came from preliminary reports by Red Cross teams on the ground.
Sources say the death toll is expected to rise sharply as rescue workers reach remote areas cut off by the fast-moving storm.
Over a million people in the Philippines have been forced to flee their homes and take refuge in safe areas.
This comes after super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, pounded the eastern island of Samar early Friday morning before barreling into five other islands.
Media reports say among the worst affected areas were the eastern island of Leyte and the coastal city of Tacloban, which has seen buildings flattened and trees uprooted. Haiyan also trampled houses, triggered landslides and floods and cut off power and communications in a number of islands.
It is now expected to make landfall in central Vietnam early Sunday. Also on its way, the super storm is expected to seriously influence China’s southern coastal areas.
According to officials, more than 12 million people are at risk.
An average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year. In December 2011, Typhoon Washi claimed the lives of 1,200 people, displaced 300,000 and destroyed more than 10,000 homes.
Typhoon Bopha last year flattened three coastal towns on the southern island of Mindanao, killing 1,100 people and causing damage estimated at USD 1.04 billion.
In September, category-five Typhoon Usagi, with winds gusting at up to 240 km/h, battered the northern island of Batanes before causing damage in southern China.
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