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Death toll from Typhoon Haiyan officially at 5,209

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan continues to climb. According to official government figures, the death toll no officially is at 5,209 - but this figure only includes fatalities of identified bodies. The real death toll may never be accurately given, with many victims having been washed out to sea. The number of injured was at set at 23,404, with 1,582 still missing.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Six Philippine islands were devastated by the typhoon on November 8. Many are still without immediate access to food and medical care. Three million people remain displaced.

Perhaps the most devastated city, Tacloban, has left longtime residents reeling. One resident in her 80 years here can't imagine anything comparable to the typhoon.

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"I really thought it was already the apocalypse -- that I wasn't going to survive," she says.

She remembers many typhoons striking Tacloban, but she "never experienced" anything like Haiyan, which is known as "Yolanda" in the Philippines.

She says she can remember World War II, during which General Douglas MacArthur waded ashore at Red Beach, not far south of Tacloban, in 1944. Douglas led U.S. troops in the campaign that liberated the Philippines from the Imperial Japanese Army.

The war to her "was a picnic," as there was no school, and adults were distracted much of the time.

More than three-quarters of the dead have been reported in the province of Leyte, of which Tacloban is the capital. looking back to see how unusual the typhoon was. Meteorologists rate it as one of the most powerful storms to hit land anywhere in the world.

Nothing comparable to the super typhoon appears to have ravaged Leyte in more than a century. In November 1912, a powerful storm was reported to have caused widespread devastation in the region. News reports from the time are reminiscent of coverage of Haiyan's impact today.

At that time, Tacloban "was almost entirely destroyed with great loss of life," reads a report in The Washington Times of November 29, 1912.

The exact death toll from the earlier typhoon was unclear. A powerful storm also devastated the region at the end of the 19th century, striking the islands of Samar and Leyte with strong winds and a deadly "tidal wave" in a manner similar to Haiyan's.

"The hurricane reached Leyte and struck the capital of Tacloban with great fury," read the story in The New York Times on November 28, 1897. "In less than half an hour the town was a mass of ruins."

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