(MANILA, Philippines) — Officials say as many as 10,000 people are feared dead in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the country on Friday.
The storm, with sustained winds of nearly 200 miles per hour, flattened entire towns in the country’s southern and central regions.
About 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 statement from the the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development
The typhoon made landfall at 4:40 a.m. local time Friday near Guiuan, on the Philippine island of Samar, about 405 miles southeast of the country’s capital, Manila. The speed of the storm may have ultimately been the country’s salvation, as Typhoon Haiyan quickly blew across the island nation rather than sitting over land.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN