Typhoon throws cars around 'like tumbleweeds'

Typhoon throws cars around 'like tumbleweeds'

WHAT: Typhoon Haiyan

WHERE: Six central Philippines islands, including Leyte and Sama

WHEN: Friday

TOLL: Estimated 1,200 dead; thousands evacuated

It was so powerful and devastating that it is now being compared to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Typhoon Haiyan, with sustained winds of about 315kmh generated storm surges that saw 3m-high waves swamp coastal towns.

"This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown around like tumbleweed and the streets are strewn with debris," said Mr Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, the head of a United Nations disaster assessment coordination team.

"The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami," he added, referring to the disaster which claimed about 220,000 lives in 2004.

Ms Mai Zamora, who is from the charity World Vision and located in Cebu, told the BBC: "We've been hearing from my colleagues in Tacloban, the destroyed capital of Leyte, that they've seen galvanised iron sheets flying just like kites."

The airport in Tacloban, a city of 200,000 about 580km south-east of Manila, looked like a muddy wasteland of debris yesterday with crumpled tin roofs and upturned cars.

The airport tower's glass windows were shattered, and air force helicopters were busy flying in and out to carry out relief operations.

"I don't have the words to describe the devastation," Interior Secretary Max Roxas told AP.

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