Huge waves brought about by Typhoon Haiyan hit the shoreline in Legazpi city, about 325 miles south of Manila, Philippines, on Friday. Nelson Salting, AP
Super Typhoon Haiyan, among the most powerful storms ever recorded, crashed across the central islands of the Philippines Friday, killing more than 100 people and forcing nearly 800,000 people to flee their homes before heading west toward Vietnam.
More than 100 others were injured in the city of Tacloban on Leyte Island, Capt. John Andrews, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority, said.
As Saturday morning broke, the official death toll was expected to rise. Initial reports on Philippine television are that dozens of bodies are visible in public areas in Leyte, one of the hardest hit islands, along with Samar and Bohol.
The Philippine television station GMA reported its news team saw 11 bodies, including that of a child, washed ashore Friday and 20 more bodies at a pier in Tacloban hours after the typhoon ripped through the coastal city.
At least 20 more bodies were taken to a church in nearby Palo town that was used as an evacuation center but had to be abandoned when its roofs were blown away, the TV network reported.
There were reports of widespread power outages, flash flood, landslides and scores of buildings that were torn apart. But because communications in the Philippines were cut-off, it remained 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.
Haiyan's sustained winds weakened Saturday to 109 mph with gusts of up to 131 mph. The center of the storm was moving away from the Philippines and into the South China Sea, but high winds were still battering the country. It was expected to make landfall Sunday in central Vietnam, where several provinces began evacuating about 300,000 people from high risk areas.
By early Saturday morning local time, the center of the fast-moving storm was located to the west of the Philippines, about 700 miles from Da Nang, Vietnam. After weakening slightly as it passed over the islands, Haiyan is expected regain strength as it heads across the South China Sea toward Southeast Asia.
It's predicted to hit Vietnam on Sunday with winds of about 125 mph, which is the strength of a Category 3 hurricane. Vietnam state media reported that several central provinces have begun evacuating some 300,000 people from high risk areas.
Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the typhoon-prone Philippines, affected a huge sweep of the country. At least two people were electrocuted in storm-related accidents, one person was killed by a fallen tree and another was struck by lightning, official reports said.
Southern Leyte Gov. Roger Mercado said the typhoon triggered landslides that blocked roads, uprooted trees and ripped roofs off houses around his residence.
The dense clouds and heavy rains made the day seem almost as dark as night, he said.
"When you're faced with such a scenario, you can only pray, and pray and pray," Mercado said in a telephone interview, adding that mayors in the province had not called in to report any major damage.
"I hope that means they were spared and not the other way around," he said. "My worst fear is there will be massive loss of lives and property."