John Andrews, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said the Tacloban airport manager had radioed the head office in Manila to report “100-plus dead, lying on the streets, with 100 plus injured”.
“This report was relayed to us by our station manager so it is considered very reliable information,” he told ABS-CBN television in an interview.
“According to the station manager the airport is completely ruined.”
Tacloban is the capital of Leyte, a large island of about two million people that was hit by Haiyan on Friday morning when the storm was at its strongest, knocking out all its communication facilities.
Andrews said the information about the deaths was relayed by high-frequency radio to the authorities.
Local television GMA network reported that storm surges had hit Tacloban and nearby Palo town on its east coast.
Its reporter said he counted at least 31 bodies, including 20 at the Palo church.
Philippine authorities are now rushing rescuers and communication equipment to the island.
Five other people have been confirmed killed elsewhere in the central Philippines.
Haiyan hurtled into Leyte and nearby Samar island with maximum sustained winds of around 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour, making it the strongest typhoon in the world this year and one of the most intense ever to make landfall.
It swept across the central and southern Philippines throughout the day before exiting into the South China Sea and tracking towards Vietnam.