|Thousands Feared Dead in 'Great Human Tragedy'|
|By ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109) , KEVIN DOLAK (@kdolak) and LIZ FIELDS (@lianzifields)||Nov 10, 2013, 8:36 AM|
Authorities working to account for the tens of thousands of people missing in wake of Typhoon Haiyan are also facing the challenge of getting desperately needed aid into a region devastated by one of the most powerful storms in history.
"Many lives were lost, a huge number of people are missing, and basic services such as drinking water and electricity have been cut off," Sebastien Sujobert, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Tacloban, said in a statement.
More than 4 million people were in the path of the storm's powerful winds and sea surges, David-Pierre Marquet told ABC News. With more than 300,000 people now scattered across 1,200 evacuation centers, aid workers grew concerned that the utter destruction is complicating relief efforts.
Both the Philippine Red Cross and the ICRC's offices in Tacloban forced staff to relocate from the typhoon-ravaged city, the ICRC said.
While supplies including food, hygiene kits and water treatment units, were sent from Manila were to Tacloban before the storm made landfall, they have yet to arrive, according to an ICRC statement.
Emergency relief is anticipated to arrive in Tacloban on Monday, but "to make matters worse, the security situation is tense," ICRC spokesman David-Pierre Marquet said.
"People here need every type of aid," he said.
Meanwhile, a senior regional police official and a city administrator in Tacloban in the central Philippines say the death toll there from the storm, which hit Friday, could reach 10,000 people, according to The Associated Press.
Regional police chief Elmer Soria told the AP that on Saturday he was briefed by Leyte provincial Gov. Dominic Petilla, who told him that there were about 10,000 deaths on the island. Most of the deaths were from drowning or caused by collapsed buildings, he said.
Tacloban city administrator Tecson Lim said that the death toll in the city alone "could go up to 10,000," the AP reports.
"We have so many dead people. We don't have bags," said mayor Remedios Petilla of Palo, a municipality in the Eastern Visayas region that was hard hit.
A half-dozen central Philippine islands are now reeling from Typhoon Haiyan after it made landfall early Friday morning. The storm, with sustained winds of nearly 200 miles per hour, flattened entire towns in the country's southern and central regions.
The number of families affected by the typhoon has reached 2 million, composed of 9.53 million people, according to a statement from the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Some 96,039 displaced families with 449,416 people are staying in 1,790 evacuation centers, while 36,627 other families with 182,379 people temporarily sought shelter in their friends and relatives' houses, according to the statement.
The typhoon made landfall at 4:40 a.m. local time near Guiuan, on the Philippine island of Samar, about 405 miles southeast of the country's capital, Manila. As bad as the destruction was, officials say it could have been even worse if the storm had stalled over land rather than moving through as quickly as it did.
As the storm moved west it weakened, and when it made landfall in Vietnam early Monday local time, its sustained winds were approximately 75 miles per hour.
Overturned cars and an airport building itself completely destroyed have been reported in Tacloban, where the BBC said that there have already been reports of widespread looting inside the city.
Bodies of the dead are scattered through the country's streets as residents await relief. With power and communication out for millions, it could take days, if not weeks, before officials in the Philippines learn the full extent of the damage.
"The devastation is, I don't have the words for it," Interior Secretary Max Roxas told the Associated Press. "It's really horrific. It's a great human tragedy."
The U.S. embassy in Manila has announced $100,000 in disaster relief for typhoon recovery, according to a statement released Saturday. A Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team is poised to fly to Manila today to conduct a needs assessment.
Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement of condolence for deaths in the Philippines on Saturday.
"I know that these horrific acts of nature are a burden that you have wrestled with and courageously surmounted before," he said. "Your spirit is strong. The United States stands ready to help, our embassies in the Philippines and Palau are in close contact with your governments, and our most heartfelt prayers are with you."
The U.S. Department of Defense announced that the initial focus of humanitarian relief operations will include surface maritime search and rescue (SAR), medium-heavy helicopter lift support, airborne maritime SAR, fixed wing lift support and logistics enablers.
U.S. Marines are flying specialized equipment into the Philippines to help that nation recover from the typhoon's devastation. Marines based in nearby Okinawa will provide large cargo aircraft and several Ospreys, which have a tilting rotor, allowing the aircraft to land like a helicopter yet fly like a plane. This functionality is ideal for search and rescue missions in hard-to-reach places.
World Vision is one of the humanitarian organizations helping the Philippines recover from Haiyan. Chris Palusky, the organization's senior director of humanitarian and emergency affairs told ABC News that they are sending in relief goods.
"We've been flying tarps, so people have some kind of shelter, also blankets to keep them warm, and we're looking at a longer-term emergency response and some development work around water and sanitation needs, and also helping people to rebuild their shelters and also keeping children safe in those environments," he said.
Palusky told ABC News the group has yet to account for all of the approximately 600 staffers on the ground there when the storm hit.
"Teams that we're sending out to do assessments right now, we're sending them out with Satphones, and they're heading out with helicopters, and also with motorcycles, because the roads are still difficult to navigate and it's just a mess," he said.
Members of the Filipino community living in the United States are expressing concern and heartbreak after the typhoon struck. Rowena David runs a grocery store with her husband in Philadelphia, where the couple accepts donations for those affected.
"Their houses are gone, and everything is gone basically," she said. "So I just, I feel bad for them."
Maria Isaacson told ABC News that her mother is visiting her in Philadelphia. Isaacson says her mother lives in one of the hardest hit areas.
"She's trying to not burst into tears. I can see in her eyes it's devastating, you know," she said. "Especially when you're right there, you know, you don't know what's going on. It's just, it's heartbreaking."
ABC News' Matt McGarry, Ginger Zee, Gloria Riviera, ABC News Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.