MANILA - Up to 1,200 people are believed dead after Super Typhoon Haiyan - one of the most powerful storms ever recorded - slammed into the central islands of the Philippines, the Philippine Red Cross said Saturday.
That death toll estimate, made by Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, comes from what the relief organization's workers have been reporting in the field, Richard Gordon, CEO of the Philippine Red Cross, told USA TODAY.
As Haiyan heads west toward Vietnam, the Red Cross is at the forefront of an international effort to provide food, water, shelter and other relief to the hundreds of thousands of residents who have lost their homes and livelihood, Gordon said.
"This is a big, full-court press," he said. "We're pulling out all the stops to help."
With widespread power outages, roads blocked, bridges down and debris strewn everywhere, getting life back to some semblance of normal in the region will take time.
"The Philippines are always resilient, and we're going to get back up," Gordon said.
Because communications in the Philippines were cutoff, it remains 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."
by Sunshine de Leon, Doyle Rice and Katharine Lackey, USA TODAY