At least 10,000 people in the central Philippine province of Leyte could have been killed by Typhoon Haiyan, according to a police chief.

The national government and disaster agency have yet to confirm the fatalities, a sharp increase from initial estimates on Saturday of at least 1,000 deaths.

As the super storm tore through the province it destroyed 70%-80% of the town of Tacloban, said Chief Superintendent Elmer Soria after he was briefed by Leyte Governor Dominic Petilla.

“The devastation is so big. We had a meeting last night with the governor and the other officials. Based on their estimate, 10,000 died,” Mr Soria said.

Most of the dead are understood to have drowned or were crushed by collapsed buildings.

Haiyan was one of the strongest tropical storms ever to have made landfall, lashing the Philippines with wind gusts of 275kph (170mph) and whipping up a storm surge which swallowed coastal towns and villages.

Haiyan, a category five typhoon that churned through the Philippine archipelago in a straight line from east to west, has weakened significantly before it is expected to hit Vietnam on Sunday.

Tacloban, a city of 220,000 people south of Manila, bore the brunt of Haiyan, which flooded villages up to one kilometre from the shore. Bodies have been seen floating in roads covered with debris from fallen trees, tangled power lines and flattened homes. see more