A day after Super Typhoon Haiyan roared into the Philippines, a Red Cross official said the death toll could reach 1,200.
"We estimate 1,000 people were killed in Tacloban and 200 in Samar province," Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, said of two coastal areas where Haiyan hit first as it began its march Friday across the archipelago.
The Red Cross said it would have more precise numbers Sunday. But experts predicted that it will take days to get the full scope of the damage wrought by a typhoon described as one of the strongest to make landfall in recorded history.
Hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their homes and power and communications are still out in several provinces making it difficult to determine the number of casualties and the full extent of damages.
Weather officials say the typhoon had sustained winds of 147 mph with gusts of 170 mph when it made landfall Thursday. By those measurements, it would be comparable to a strong Category 4 hurricane in the U.S., nearly in the top category, a 5.
Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are the same thing. They are just called different names in different parts of the world.
The destruction across the islands was catastrophic and widespread. For a time, storm clouds covered the entire Philippines, stretching 1,120 miles -- the distance between Florida and Canada -- and tropical storm-force winds covered an area the size of Germany.
The typhoon first struck before dawn on Friday on the country's eastern island of Samar, flooding streets and knocking out power and communications in most of Eastern Visayas region.
It continued its march, barreling into five other Philippine islands before its wind strength dropped Saturday to 130 mph and it lost its super typhoon designation.
But meteorologists said it could regain super status as it headed Saturday toward Vietnam, where it was expected to strike Sunday morning around the cities of Da Nang and Hue.
Super Typhoon Haiyan packed a wallop on Philippine structures 3.5 times more forceful than the United States' Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which directly or indirectly killed 1,833 people. At $108 billion, it was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history.
About 125,000 people took refuge in evacuation centers, and hundreds of flights were canceled.
Haiyan may be the strongest tropical cyclone in recorded history, though meteorologists said it will take further analysis to establish whether it is a record.
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