New York - The United Nations warned on Monday of a quickly mounting death toll from the super typhoon in the Philippines, with 10 000 people feared killed in the worst-hit city of Tacloban alone.
One top humanitarian official said the UN was "expecting the worst" on the final body count, and also cited the desperate need for clean drinking water and food for survivors of the disaster.
John Ging, UN humanitarian operations director, said 660 000 people had fled their homes because of typhoon Haiyan and that the UN will appeal for significant international aid for victims on Tuesday.
"The scale of devastation is massive and therefore it will require the mobilisation of a massive response," Ging said, praising the Philippines government response to the disaster as "very impressive" so far.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who is heading for the Philippines, said in a statement that "local officials estimate that some 10 000 people were killed in one city alone". Her spokesperson confirmed that she was referring to Tacloban, which was devastated by the storm.
Expect the worst
"Many places are strewn with dead bodies," Ging told a news conference at UN headquarters, confirming estimates that "over 10 000 people perished".
Amos was expected in Manila to run a joint relief operation by private groups and the UN, which has already released $25m from its emergency fund for aid.
Tuesday's "flash appeal" for cash, was likely to be seeking hundreds of millions of dollars, UN officials said.
When asked about Haiyan's final toll, Ging added: "We are certainly expecting the worst. As we get more and more access we find the tragedy of more and more people killed in this typhoon."
Ging told of the battle to get to Tacloban and other areas badly hit by the super typhoon, which swept huge waves and the fiercest storm winds recorded in the past century into the Philippines.
He said it was taking three hours for relief vehicles to cover the 11km from Tacloban airport into the city.
But the devastation is widespread across Leyte and other provinces, heightening fears of more deaths. The UN humanitarian agency said about 5 000 homes had been destroyed in Cadiz City in Negros Oriental province.
In Iloilo province there had "significant devastation" in the towns of Conception and San Dionisio, the agency added.