Super Typhoon Rai - with winds of about 195km/h (120mph) - sent some 300,000 people running for safety when it hit the country's south-eastern islands.
Rescue teams have described scenes of "complete carnage".
But establishing the scale of the losses is difficult, as communication to a number of areas has been cut off.
There are fears widespread landslides and flooding may have claimed more lives.
"Many areas have no power, no communications, very little water," the chair of the Philippines Red Cross, Richard Gordon, told the BBC.
"There are some areas that look like it has been bombed worse than World War Two."
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched an emergency appeal seeking 20 million Swiss francs (£16m; $22m) to fund long-term relief efforts.
"Red Cross emergency teams are reporting complete carnage in the coastal areas," Mr Gordon said. "Homes, hospitals, school and community buildings have been ripped to shreds."
Volunteers are on the scene giving out urgent help "for people who have lost everything", he said.