Along with Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, Supertyphoon Haiyan has entered history as a great and vastly destructive storm. In terms of its power, it was the strongest storm every recorded. It crossed the central Philippines, leaving in its wake catastrophic damage and at least 10,000 people dead. The destruction of homes, buildings and physical infrastructure means that millions of people have been left stranded in its wake, and in most of the country, power failures, road blockages and other damage are both impeding rescuers and preventing survivors from leaving stricken areas.

Pope Francis asked that the world give the country ‘concrete help,’ saying: “Sadly, there are many, many victims and the damage is huge. Let’s try to provide concrete help.”

Tacloban City was the hardest hit community, with some residents saying that the storm surge was like a tsunami. A complete breakdown of order followed the catastrophe, and looting in the city is widespread, as residents realize that it may not be possible for some time for food supplies to reach the community. Philippines President Benigno Acquino III announced that a column of troops was headed for the city, and he was considering imposing martial law there and in other stricken areas.

The storm is now hitting the coast of Vietnam, but as a Category 1 hurricane. It is expected to cause extensive flooding but no wind damage in Vietnam, and minor storm surges.

Another tropical depression is expected to develop into a tropical storm this week, and bring more rain to the damaged areas of the Philippines.

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