For perspective, Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines on Friday, packed more power than hurricanes Katrina and Sandy combined, according to reports.
The official government estimate on the number of lives lost stood at 942 on Monday, but some estimates put the death toll at 10,000 in hard-hit Tacloban alone, with many people washed into the Pacific by a storm surge reported to be 20 feet.
The “wall of water,” as it was described, was so powerful that it lifted ships and tossed them onto what had been houses.
“Swirling water from the ocean filled the streets,” retired schoolteacher Virginia Basinang, living in Tacloban, the hardest-hit city, told the New York Times. “Some of them were able to hold on, some were lucky and lived, but most did not.”
Top wind speeds at the height of the storm were reported to be 195 mph with gusts to 235 mph.
"I was talking to the people of Tacloban," senior presidential aide Rene Alemendras told The Weather Channel. "They said, 'We were ready for the wind. We were not ready for the water.’ We tried our very best to warn everybody, but it was really just overwhelming, especially the storm surge."