TACLOBAN, Philippines -- Corpses hung from trees, were scattered on sidewalks or buried in flattened buildings -- some of the 10,000 people believed killed in one Philippine city alone by ferocious Typhoon Haiyan that washed away homes and buildings with powerful winds and giant waves.

As the scale of devastation became clear Sunday from one of the worst storms ever recorded, officials projected the death toll could climb even higher when emergency crews reach parts of the archipelago cut off by flooding and landslides. Looters raided grocery stores and gas stations in search of food, fuel and water as the government began relief efforts and international aid operations got underway.

Even in a nation regularly beset by earthquakes, volcanoes and tropical storms, Typhoon Haiyan appears to be the deadliest natural disaster on record.

Haiyan hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on Friday and quickly barrelled across its central islands, packing winds of 235 kph (147 mph) that gusted to 275 kph (170 mph), and a storm surge of 6 metres (20 feet).

Its sustained winds weakened to 133 kph (83 mph) as it crossed the South China Sea before approaching northern Vietnam, where it was forecast to hit land early Monday. Authorities there evacuated hundreds of thousands of people.

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  • An aerial photo shows residential and commercial establishments devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban in the province of Leyte on November 16, 2013. The first food and medical aid began reaching isolated towns devastated by the typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, as humanitarian groups warned of huge challenges in accessing hundreds of small island communities. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH AGCAOILI

  • An aerial photo taken on November 16, 2013 shows shows the damage to residential and commercial establishmentswreaked by the typhoon in Tacloban City, province of Leyte, Philippines. Mayor Romualdez said the people of Tacloban needed an 'overwhelming response' from aid organisations and the government. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH AGCAOILI

  • An aerial photo shows residential and commercial establishments devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban in the province of Leyte on November 16, 2013. The first food and medical aid began reaching isolated towns devastated by the typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, as humanitarian groups warned of huge challenges in accessing hundreds of small island communities. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH AGCAOILI

  • An aerial photo shows residential and commercial establishments devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban in the province of Leyte on November 16, 2013. The first food and medical aid began reaching isolated towns devastated by the typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, as humanitarian groups warned of huge challenges in accessing hundreds of small island communities. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH AGCAOILI

  • An aerial photo shows the convention centre damaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban in the province of Leyte on November 16, 2013. The first food and medical aid began reaching isolated towns devastated by the typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, as humanitarian groups warned of huge challenges in accessing hundreds of small island communities. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH AGCAOILI

  • An aerial photo shows residential and commercial establishments devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban in the province of Leyte on November 16, 2013. The first food and medical aid began reaching isolated towns devastated by the typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, as humanitarian groups warned of huge challenges in accessing hundreds of small island communities. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH AGCAOILI

  • An aerial photo shows residential and commercial establishments devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban in the province of Leyte on November 16, 2013. The first food and medical aid began reaching isolated towns devastated by the typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, as humanitarian groups warned of huge challenges in accessing hundreds of small island communities. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH AGCAOILI

  • An aerial photo shows an area devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban in the province of Leyte on November 16, 2013. The first food and medical aid began reaching isolated towns devastated by the typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, as humanitarian groups warned of huge challenges in accessing hundreds of small island communities. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH AGCAOILI

  • An aerial photo shows an area devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban in the province of Leyte on November 16, 2013. The first food and medical aid began reaching isolated towns devastated by the typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, as humanitarian groups warned of huge challenges in accessing hundreds of small island communities. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH AGCAOILI

  • Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan fix their homes, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard Nov. 8, leaving a wide swath of destruction.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • People walk past the bodies of victims of Typhoon Haiyan, placed along a street more than a week after the typhoon hit, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 in Tacloban, central Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard Nov. 8, leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • A lone person walks through a devastated landscape caused by Typhoon Haiyan seen from a U.S. Osprey plane delivering aid to isolated areas while passing over Guiuan, central Philippines, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard on Nov. 8, destroying tens of thousands of buildings and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

  • Trapped residents carry relief supplies unloaded by a US Navy Sea Hawk helicopter from the US aircraft carrier USS George Washington for villagers isolated by last week's super typhoon Haiyan Saturday Nov.16, 2013 on Manicani island, Eastern Samar province in central Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded, according to U.S. Navy's Joint Warning Center, slammed into central Philippine provinces over a week earlier leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

  • Typhoon Haiyan survivors do their washing with water spraying from pipes in the rubble in Tacloban on Saturday Nov. 16, 2013. One week after Typhoon Haiyan razed the eastern part of the Philippines, leaving 600,000 homeless, survivors have begun rebuilding, with or without help from their government or foreign aid groups. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

  • A Typhoon Haiyan survivor walks past a dead body, wrapped in plastic Christmas theme wrapping in Tacloban on Saturday Nov. 16, 2013. One week after Typhoon Haiyan razed the eastern part of the Philippines, leaving 600,000 homeless, survivors have begun rebuilding, with or without help from their government or foreign aid groups. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

  • A Typhoon Haiyan survivor passes by a damaged statue of Jesus Christ in the rubble in Tacloban on Saturday Nov. 16, 2013. One week after Typhoon Haiyan razed the eastern part of the Philippines, leaving 600,000 homeless, survivors have begun rebuilding, with or without help from their government or foreign aid groups. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

  • Typhoon Haiyan survivors play inside a stadium being used as a refugee shelter in Tacloban on Saturday Nov. 16, 2013. One week after Typhoon Haiyan razed the eastern part of the Philippines, leaving 600,000 homeless, survivors have begun rebuilding, with or without help from their government or foreign aid groups. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

  • Typhoon Haiyan survivors walk through the ruins of their neighborhood on the outskirts of Tacloban, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard on Friday, destroying tens of thousands of buildings and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

  • A broken clock shows the time when it stopped inside a house damaged by a typhoon in Tacloban, central Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction . (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

  • A dog takes a bite on an empty canned food as it searches for food in typhoon-hit Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

  • Typhoon Haiyan survivors pass by body bags lined up on the roadside in Tacloban, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard on Friday, destroying tens of thousands of buildings and killing thousands. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

  • Filipino workers carry a wooden coffin as they collect bodies along a street in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

  • A survivor walks near a dead pig in typhoon ravaged Tacloban city, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into central Philippine provinces Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

  • A survivor rebuilds his house in typhoon ravaged Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into central Philippine provinces Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

  • A man walks past a boat swept ashore by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Five days after Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical storms on record, leveled tens of thousands of houses in the central Philippines. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

  • A survivors take a rest in typhoon ravaged Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into central Philippine provinces Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

  • A woman pauses near a truck that was swept away by a typhoon in Tacloban, Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

  • Filipinos walk inside a mall that has been flooded and allegedly looted following a Typhoon in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

  • A Filipino man walks inside a mall that has been flooded and allegedly looted after Typhoon Hayian hit Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction. "Yolanda" painted on a car is the local name for Haiyan. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

  • Land is flooded from overnight rain as soldiers make their way around the airport in Tacloban at dusk, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • Filipino workers collect dead bodies along a street at typhoon-hit Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

  • Filipino workers collect dead bodies in typhoon-hit Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

  • Typhoon survivors queue up at the Tacloban city airport hoping to be able to board U.S. and Philippine military transport planes Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in Leyte province, central Philippines. Five days after one of the strongest tropical storms on record leveled tens of thousands of houses in the central Philippines, relief operations were only starting to pick up pace, with two more airports in the region reopening, allowing for more aid flights. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

  • Filipino survivors stand inside a mall that was allegedly looted after Typhoon Hayian-hit Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

  • Typhoon survivors queue up at Tacloban city airport hoping to be able to board U.S. and Philippine military transport planes Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in Tacloban city, Leyte province in central Philippines. Five days after one of the strongest tropical storms on record leveled tens of thousands of houses in the central Philippines, relief operations were only starting to pick up pace, with two more airports in the region reopening, allowing for more aid flights. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

  • An employee of the German Red Cross loads donations for the victims of the typhoon at the Philippines in front of a cargo airplane at the Schoenefeld Airport in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

  • A Philippines rescue team wades into floodwaters to retrieve a body in the Typhoon Haiyan ravaged city of Tacloban, central Phillipines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard on Friday, destroying tens of thousands of buildings and killing thousands. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

  • Firemen carry the newly recovered body of a victim of Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

  • Firemen carry the newly recovered body of a victim of Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

  • People cover their noses from the stench of dead bodies in an area affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

  • Members of a Philippines rescue team carry corpses in body bags as they search for the dead in the Typhoon Haiyan ravaged city of Tacloban, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard on Friday, destroying tens of thousands of buildings and killing thousands. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

  • An aerial view shows signs for help and food amid the destruction left from Typhoon Haiyan in the coastal town of Tanawan, central Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

  • A man takes a shower amid rubble in an area badly affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

  • A Filipino man walks among debris from damaged homes at typhoon-hit Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

  • Typhoon Haiyan survivors pass by on a scooter as two U.S. Osprey aircraft fly over the ruins of Tacloban, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard on Friday, destroying tens of thousands of buildings and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

  • In this aerial photo taken on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, and released by the Philippine Air Force, a ferry boat is seen washed inland from a massive storm surge caused by Typhoon Haiyan, in the city of Tacloban, central Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead. (AP Photo/Philippines Air Force)

  • A survivor from Tacloban, which was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan gestures while sitting on the ground after disembarking a Philippine Air Force C-130 aircraft at the Villamor Airbase, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, in Manila, Philippines. Authorities said at least 9.7 million people in 41 provinces were affected by the typhoon, known as Haiyan elsewhere in Asia but called Yolanda in the Philippines. It was likely the deadliest natural disaster to beset this poor Southeast Asian nation. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

  • Filipino military personnel stand by a building damaged by typhoon Haiyan at the airport in Tacloban, on the eastern island of Leyte on November 12, 2013 after Super Typhoon Haiyan swept over the Philippines. The typhoon that destroyed entire towns across the Philippines is believed to have killed more than 10,000 people, which would make it the country's deadliest recorded natural disaster. AFP PHOTO/Philippe Lopez

  • Two typhoon victims walk a road surrounded by a devastated land outside the airport in Tacloban, on the eastern island of Leyte on November 12, 2013 after Super Typhoon Haiyan swept over the Philippines. The typhoon that destroyed entire towns across the Philippines is believed to have killed more than 10,000 people, which would make it the country's deadliest recorded natural disaster. AFP PHOTO/Philippe Lopez

  • Typhoon survivors jostle to get a chance to board a C-130 military transport plane Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, in Tacloban, central Philippines. Thousands of typhoon survivors swarmed the airport on Tuesday seeking a flight out, but only a few hundred made it, leaving behind a shattered, rain-lashed city short of food and water and littered with countless bodies. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

  • TACLOBAN, PHILIPPINES - NOVEMBER 12: Members of the Philippine National Police work next to body bags containing victims of Typhoon Haiyan on November 12, 2013 near Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, packing maximum sustained winds of 195 mph (315 kph), slammed into the southern Philippines and left a trail of destruction in multiple provinces, forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate and making travel by air and land to hard-hit provinces difficult. Around 10,000 people are feared dead in the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year. (Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images)

Hardest hit in the Philippines was Leyte Island, where officials said there may be 10,000 dead in the provincial capital of Tacloban alone. Reports also trickled in from elsewhere on the island, as well as from neighbouring islands, indicating hundreds more deaths, although it will be days before the full extent of the storm can be assessed.

"On the way to the airport we saw many bodies along the street,'' said Philippine-born Australian Mila Ward, 53, who was waiting at the Tacloban airport to catch a military flight back to Manila, about 580 kilometres (360 miles) to the northwest. "They were covered with just anything -- tarpaulin, roofing sheets, cardboard.'' She said she passed ``well over 100'' bodies.

In one part of Tacloban, a ship had been pushed ashore and sat amid damaged homes.

Haiyan inflicted serious damage to at least six of the archipelago's more than 7,000 islands, with Leyte, neighbouring Samar Island, and the northern part of Cebu appearing to bear the brunt of the storm. About 4 million people were affected by the storm, the national disaster agency said.

On Leyte, regional Police Chief Elmer Soria said the provincial governor had told him there were about 10,000 deaths there, primarily from drowning and collapsed buildings. Most were in Tacloban, a city of about 200,000 that is the biggest on the island.

On Samar, Leo Dacaynos of the provincial disaster office said 300 people were confirmed dead in one town and another 2,000 were missing, with some towns yet to be reached by rescuers. He pleaded for food and water, adding that power was out and there was no cellphone signal, making communication possible only by radio.

Reports from other affected islands indicated dozens, perhaps hundreds more deaths.

Video from Eastern Samar province's Guiuan township -- the first area where the typhoon made landfall -- showed a trail of devastation. Many houses were flattened and roads were strewn with debris and uprooted trees. The ABS-CBN video showed several bodies on the street, covered with blankets.

"Even me, I have no house, I have no clothes. I don't know how I will restart my life, I am so confused,'' an unidentified woman said, crying. "I don't know what happened to us. We are appealing for help. Whoever has a good heart, I appeal to you -- please help Guiuan.''

The Philippine National Red Cross said its efforts were hampered by looters, including some who attacked trucks of food and other relief supplies it was shipping to Tacloban from the southern port of Davao.

Tacloban's two largest malls and grocery stores were looted, and police guarded a fuel depot. About 200 police officers were sent into Tacloban to restore law and order.

With other rampant looting reported, President Benigno Aquino III said he was considering declaring a state of emergency or martial law in Tacloban. A state of emergency usually includes curfews, price and food supply controls, military or police checkpoints and increased security patrols.

The massive casualties occurred even though the government had evacuated nearly 800,000 people ahead of the typhoon.

Aquino flew around Leyte by helicopter on Sunday and landed in Tacloban. He said the government's priority was to restore power and communications in isolated areas and deliver relief and medical assistance.

Challenged to respond to a disaster of such magnitude, the Philippine government also accepted help from abroad.

U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel directed the Pacific Command to deploy ships and aircraft to support search-and-rescue operations and fly in emergency supplies.

The United Nations said relief operations have begun but that access remained a challenge because some areas are still cut off.

Pope Francis led tens of thousands of people at the Vatican in prayer for the victims. The Philippines has the largest number of Catholics in Asia, and Filipinos are one of Rome's biggest immigrant communities.

The Philippines is annually buffeted by tropical storms and typhoons, which are called hurricanes and cyclones elsewhere. The nation is in the northwestern Pacific, right in the path of the world's No. 1 typhoon generator, according to meteorologists. The archipelago's exposed eastern seaboard often bears the brunt.

Even by the standards of the Philippines, however, Haiyan is a catastrophe of epic proportions and has shocked the impoverished and densely populated nation of 96 million people. Its winds were among the strongest ever recorded, and it appears to have killed many more people than the previous deadliest Philippine storm, Thelma, in which about 5,100 people died in the central Philippines in 1991.

The country's deadliest disaster on record was the 1976 magnitude-7.9 earthquake that triggered a tsunami in the Moro Gulf in the southern Philippines, killing 5,791 people.

Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Aquino was "speechless'' when he told him of the devastation in Tacloban.

"I told him all systems are down,'' Gazmin said. "There is no power, no water, nothing. People are desperate. They're looting.''

Tacloban, in the east-central Philippines, is near the Red Beach on Leyte Island where U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur waded ashore in 1944 during World War II and fulfilled his famous pledge: "I shall return.''

It was the first city liberated from the Japanese by U.S. and Filipino forces and served as the Philippines' temporary capital for several months. It is also the hometown of former Filipino first lady Imelda Marcos, whose nephew, Alfred Romualdez, is the city's mayor.

One Tacloban resident said he and others took refuge inside a Jeep, but the vehicle was picked up by a surging wall of water.

"The water was as high as a coconut tree,'' said 44-year-old Sandy Torotoro, a bicycle taxi driver who lives near the airport with his wife and 8-year-old daughter. "I got out of the Jeep and I was swept away by the rampaging water with logs, trees and our house, which was ripped off from its mooring.

"When we were being swept by the water, many people were floating and raising their hands and yelling for help. But what can we do? We also needed to be helped,'' Torotoro said.

In Torotoro's village, bodies were strewn along the muddy main road as now-homeless residents huddled with the few possessions they managed to save. The road was lined with toppled trees.

UNICEF estimated that 1.7 million children live in areas affected by the typhoon, according to the agency's representative in the Philippines, Tomoo Hozumi. UNICEF's supply division in Copenhagen was loading 60 metric tons of relief supplies for an emergency airlift expected to arrive in the Philippines on Tuesday.

"The devastation is ... I don't have the words for it,'' Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said. "It's really horrific. It's a great human tragedy.''

In Vietnam, about 600,000 people living in the central region who had been evacuated returned to their homes Sunday after a weakened Haiyan changed directions and took aim at the country's north.

Four people in three central Vietnamese provinces died while trying to reinforce their homes for the storm, the national floods and storms control department said Sunday.

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Associated Press writers Oliver Teves and Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Minh Tran in Hanoi, Vietnam, and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.