As Vietnam braced itself for the onslaught of Typhoon Haiyan last night, officials in the devastated Philippines told of a ‘tsunami-like’ disaster with bodies floating down the streets and hanging from trees, cars lying upside down and houses reduced to a pile of soggy mud and brick.
As reports came in from eastern islands and across the centre of the country which were hit by winds in excess of 200mph, there were grave fears that the death toll could soar to well above 10,000.
Among the tragic images that were emerging was the sight of a distressed man carrying the body of his drowned six-year-old daughter.
Because communications were cut, the number killed might not be known for several days, but from numerous towns and villages across the country today, the shocking figures began to reach rescue centres – including a report from Basey town on Samar Island that 300 were confirmed dead and another 2,000 were missing.
On the island of Leyte, regional governor Dominic Petilla reported that there were 10,000 deaths there, mostly from drownings and collapsed buildings.
Mr Leo Dacaynos of the provincial disaster office on Samar Island said yesterday that the storm surge resulted in sea waters rising to 20ft, totally submerging small towns and villages.
The flood waters were still preventing rescuers from reaching parts of the island, said Mr Dacaynos, and mobile towers had been destroyed, making communication difficult.