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Typhoon Haiyan rips through the Philppines; death toll continues to rise (photos)

typhoon_187445637_620x465Typhoon Haiyan, believed to possibly be the most powerful storm to make landfall in recorded history, ripped though the Philippines with rains and wind gusts topping 230 mph on Thursday.

With no power and limited communication, officials in the Philippines are doing their best to find missing individuals. The typhoon slammed into six central Philippine islands, wiping away buildings and leveling seaside homes.

As of today, at least 138 people have been confirmed dead in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan; however, Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Gwen Pang said agency field staff in the region estimated the toll was close to 10,000, emphasizing that the number is “just an estimate.”

If the expected death toll reaches the estimated amount, it would be the deadliest natural catastrophe on record to hit the Philippines. Before Haiyan, Tropical Storm Thelma hit the islands back in Nov. 1991, killing around 5,100 people in the central Philippines. The deadliest disaster so far was the 1976 magnitude-7.9 earthquake that triggered a tsunami in the Moro Gulf in the southern Philippines, killing 5,791 people.

“The rescue operation is ongoing. We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured,” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said. “All systems, all vestiges of modern living – communications, power, water – all are down. Media is down, so there is no way to communicate with the people in a mass sort of way.”

The U.S. embassy in Manila has announced $100,000 in immediate disaster relief for typhoon recovery, according to a statement released Saturday. A Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team is set to fly to Manila soon to conduct an assessment.

The storm has weakened to 103 mph with stronger gusts and is expected to hit northern Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa province some time between Sunday and Monday.

Click below to preview some of the damage caused by the high winds and water of Typhoon Haiyan.

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