Monster storm Haiyan batters the Philippines

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Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman, this is The World.
One of the most powerful storms ever recorded. Just let that sink in for a second. Yeah, it was one of the biggest storms ever that slammed into the central Philippines today. Super typhoon Haiyan caused massive havoc, ripping the roofs off houses, toppling power lines, and cutting communications. It also killed a number of people and forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate from its path.
Earlier, we reached British tourist Mark Dashwood. He's on the Philippine island of Boracay and wasn't able to leave the island before the storm hit, so he had to take shelter in a hotel.

Mark Dashwood: At its worst, it was incredibly windy outside. We were getting reports of winds up to 300 kilometers an hour. The trees were, you know, almost toppled over. Some of the roofs on the buildings next door were beginning to peel away, and there was a lot of debris just flying around.

Werman: Could you hear it where you were? I mean, it must have been incredibly loud.

Dashwood: It was. I mean, it was a kind of a howling noise, and then occasionally it would go quiet and then you'd get another kind of swish of wind again. And then there was a moment where it went very calm, which it must have been the eye of the storm.

Werman: So now that things have calmed down a little bit, have you been outside and taken a walk around:

Dashwood: We've literally just walked down to the hotel reception now, so we had to walk outside, and it's really calm. There's a lot of devastation, but from what I can see, there's a lot of trees on the ground and lots of debris on the floor.

Werman: Tell me what you were doing in Boracay in the first place.

Dashwood: I'm taking a bit of time out of work and decided to go on a backpacking trip around Asia, so I came to Boracay about four days ago. I flew from South Korea straight into Manila, and then straight down to Boracay, and then it was two days ago that we first started to hear about the storm coming in. So the first thing I did was book a flight to Manila, but unfortunately we weren't able to get off the island because they closed the port.

Werman: What have you heard of, in terms of you know, just basic supplies... food, clean water, medical supplies. Is that a challenge right now?

Dashwood: We've been watching the news constantly, and I mean, we hear reports of lots of food supplies being sent to various evacuation centers. I think there's one just up the road from the hotel. I think I'll have more of an idea tomorrow. It's really hard to tell at the moment what the extent of the devastation is.

Werman: And Mark, you're a doctor, has anybody asked you for medical assistance?

Dashwood: No. I mean, it hasn't gotten to that stage here. I'm quite interested to see what it's like tomorrow. I know there's a hospital up the road, so my plan is to go there and see if there's anything we can do. At the moment, you know, we don't want to really leave the hotel.

Werman: Right. I mean, being unable to leave the hotel up until now, through this typhoon, I'm just wondering how communications is going, and whether there's a sense of panic or it's been pretty calm so far.

Dashwood: I mean, now that everyone's calm and there's a real sense of relief. The most kind of harrowing part of this whole experience was actually yesterday, when I was trying to escape. Hundreds of people were trying to do the same thing, and we were all queuing to get the last few boats that they supplied. And you know, people were pushing and screaming, and that was the worst part of all of this.

Werman: Did it feel like this could be one of the worst in history? I know you're not a regular in the Philippines, but...

Dashwood: Well, funny enough, this is the second typhoon that I've experienced. I was actually stuck in New York, almost a year ago to the day, during Hurricane Sandy. I seem to have a bit of bad luck when it comes to typhoons, but I mean, this felt a lot worse than Sandy, actually.

Werman: Well, Mark, thanks very much for your time and for speaking with us. Greatly appreciated.

Dashwood: No problem.

Werman: British tourist Mark Dashwood, speaking with us earlier. He's on the Philippine island of Boracay, which took a hit from super typhoon Haiyan today. As for visual evidence of the destruction wrought by Haiyan, we have a slideshow at PRI.org.