At least 100 people may have died in the Philippines from the impact of super typhoon Haiyan, according to government officials.
An aviation officer in the central city of Tacloban reported bodies lying in the streets, said Captain John Andrews, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.
Captain Andrews said the Tacloban airport manager had radioed the head office in Manila to report “100-plus dead, lying on the streets, with 100 plus injured”.
“This report was relayed to us by our station manager so it is considered very reliable information,” he told ABS-CBN television.
“According to the station manager the airport is completely ruined.”
Tacloban is the capital of Leyte, a large island of about two million people that was hit by Haiyan on Friday morning when the storm was at its strongest, knocking out all its communication facilities.
Local television GMA network reported that storm surges had hit Tacloban and nearby Palo town on its east coast.
Its reporter said he counted at least 31 bodies, including 20 at the Palo church. Philippine authorities are now rushing rescuers and communication equipment to the island.
Five other people have been confirmed killed elsewhere in the central Philippines and as emergency workers reach the worst affected areas, many which remain cut off, the death toll is expected to rise.
Minnie Portales, a spokesman for the aid agency World Vision, said: “As we wait for early reports from some of the hardest-hit provinces, we fear for the worst. This could be very bad.”
Anna Lindenfors, Save the Children’s director for the Philippines, added: “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.”
Haiyan, now thought to be the strongest storm ever to hit land, was barrelling out of the Philippines after having flattened houses, triggered landslides and floods and knocked out power and communications across a number of islands.
The category five storm whipped-up winds of 195mph and waves as high as 5 metres as well as brought down power lines, knocked out communications, caused landslides and left streets flooded.
Hundreds of thousands of people had to be evacuated and thousands more fled their homes as Haiyan tore apart buildings.
The previous strongest tropical cylcone, Hurricane Camille, brought 190mph winds to the Gulf of Mexico in 1969.
Meteorologists say Haiyan could pick up strength again as it sweeps across the South China Sea toward Vietnam.