At least 138 people are confirmed dead in the aftermath of a typhoon that slammed into six central Philippine islands yesterday, but the death toll is expected to climb.

The Philippine interior secretary says officials expect "a very high number of fatalities" from one of the strongest typhoons on record. He describes the damage in the city of Tacloban as "really horrific."

The Philippine Red Cross says its field staff in the region estimated the toll was about 1,000.

Civil aviation authorities in Tacloban, about 360 miles southeast of Manila, reported that the seaside airport terminal was "ruined." U.S. Marine Col. Mike Wylie says military planes could still land with relief aid.

Secretary of State John Kerry says America "stands ready to help."


Waiting For Word In New Jersey

Filipionos who live in Jersey City. Woodbridge, Edison, Piscataway, Belleville, Union Township and Bloomfield are watching coverage on television, horrified at the damage as they await word from their family and friends. “We don’t know anything, but we’ve heard it’s bad,” Angelina Ferrer of Jersey City told the Star-Ledger.

Linsel Alfonso told News 12 New Jersey that homes and shelters in the most affected areas are not that strong. "Just a few raindrops and it's like gone," explains Linsel.

Rolando Lavarro, Jersey City council president echoed those concerns, telling NBC 4 "The infrastructure is not as developed as we have here in the United States, and in that particular region, it's probably more underdeveloped."

Heading For Vietnam

The typhoon's sustained winds weakened Saturday to 163 kph (101 mph) with stronger gusts as it blew farther away from the Philippines toward Vietnam.

Vietnamese authorities in four central provinces began evacuating more than 500,000 people from high risk areas to government buildings, schools and other concrete homes able to withstand strong winds.

"The evacuation is being conducted with urgency," disaster official Nguyen Thi Yen Linh said from central Danang City, where some 76,000 were being moved to safety.

Bureau of Fire Protection volunteers pack relief goods bound for hard-hit areas of the southern Philippines at a government warehouse in Manila (Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

Hundreds of thousands of others were being taken to shelters in the provinces of Quang Ngai, Quang Nam and Thua Thien Hue. Schools were closed and two deputy prime ministers were sent to the region to direct the preparations.

The typhoon was forecast to make landfall in Vietnam at around 10 a.m. Sunday between Danang and Quang Ngai and move northwest.



The Associated Press contributed to this report