Britain is to give the Philippines more than £6 million in aid to help the country recover from the devastating super typhoon, which is feared to have killed more than 10,000 people. David Cameron pledged the support on Sunday, calling President Benigno Aquino III to offer his condolences for the huge loss of life after the country was struck by one of the most powerful storms in recorded history.
Typhoon Haiyan made landfall early on Saturday morning, striking the coast with wind speeds in excess of 170mph, causing flooding, landslides and power outages.
Speaking To Reuters, Jenny Chu, a medical student in Leyte, said: "People are walking like zombies looking for food... It's like a movie."
According to Downing Street, the Prime Minister said: "Our thoughts are with all those affected, especially those who have lost loved ones." The spokesperson added: “This weekend we announced a package of £6 million emergency humanitarian support to help more than 500,000 people affected by the storm. We have also sent four humanitarian experts to the Philippines to assist three advisers already in the country helping to coordinate the international response."
One of the thousands of victims of the super typhoon
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President Aquino visited Tacloban earlier to see the scale of the destruction. Tourists in northern areas of Vietnam are now bracing themselves as the tornado makes its way towards them. Haiyan is now racing across the South China Sea towards the north eastern coast of the country, and is expected to make landfall shortly after midnight.
More than 100,000 Britons visit Vietnam every year. Many travel to the northern city of Hanoi, the capital, and the popular tourist destination of Halong Bay in the north east of Vietnam, both of which are expected to be in the path of the typhoon. The Foreign Office is advising travellers to follow advice from local authorities, and has teams on standby in Hue and Da Nang to assist any British nationals.
A second team of experts is on standby to travel there.
Alexi Boothman, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said the typhoon would decrease in power when it reached land, curving north eastwards through Vietnam. She said: "Typhoons are powered largely by the warm ocean, so when they move over land they start to lose that energy and dissipate."
The typhoon is likely to hit Vietnam at speeds of about 75mph (120kph). In the Philippines 6,000 foreigners and locals are stranded on the popular resort island of Boracay, one of the tourist spots in the typhoon's path, tourism officer Tim Ticar said. It is not known if any Britons are trapped.
As many as 10,000 people are believed to have died in the city of Tacloban alone. Ferocious winds have caused widespread flooding, washing away homes, schools and airport buildings, burying people under rubble and leaving millions homeless. Aid agencies in the country say they are struggling to reach the worst-affected areas.
Yesterday International Development Secretary Justine Greening activated the UK's Rapid Response Facility (RRF) which will provide £5 million to organisations to help up to half a million victims. Plastic sheeting to build shelters is among a £600,000 British shipment of emergency equipment.
Carin van der Hor, of international development organisation Plan, told of the "unimaginable" level of destruction from Typhoon Haiyan. "There are now thousands of families in evacuation centres who have been forced out of their homes and are in desperate need of shelter, clean water and medicine. It's also vital that debris is cleared to make roads passable and that communication is restored as soon as possible," she said.
"This is a disaster of the highest magnitude that is potentially the worst natural disaster the country has ever experienced. The people of the Philippines endure a cycle of typhoons, floods, earthquakes and landslides, but we haven't seen anything as ferocious as this typhoon before."