October 21, 2017

Philippines evacuates thousands in storm’s path

Super Typhoon

Tens of thousands have been evacuated in the Philippines amid one of the country’s worst-ever storms.
Super Typhoon Haima is battering the northern island of Luzon, where over 10 million people are within its reach.
President Rodrigo Duterte is visiting China, but said emergency services had been deployed.
“We only pray we be spared the destruction such as the previous times, which brought agony and suffering,” he said.
The storm was upgraded to a super typhoon just before it hit, making landfall in Penablanca, a town in Cagayan province, around 23:00 local time (1500 GMT) on Wednesday.
“We can’t go out because the wind is so intense, trees are being forced down,” local councillor Elisa Arugay told DZMM radio from Camasi village in Penablanca.
Experts fear Haima could prove as destructive as the catastrophic super typhoon Haiyan, which claimed more than 7,350 lives in 2013.
Haima, known as Lawin locally, has a weather band 800km (500 miles) wide, and authorities have warned the public to expect fierce winds and storm surges up to five metres (16 feet) or higher.
Waves of this size could easily engulf homes in fragile coastal areas.
State weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said the super typhoon had struck the country with sustained winds of 140mph (225km/h) and gusts of 195mph (315km/h).
The typhoon is expected to move westward through Luzon, leaving the island on Thursday on course for southern China.
Civil defence chief Ricardo Jalad said all areas in the storm’s path had been evacuated in advance. He said there would probably be “damage to light structures” and a risk of floods and landslides.
In towns that could be cut off by toppled trees and mudslides, police and soldiers helped thousands of villagers onto trucks with their children. Laden with bags of clothes, sleeping mats, and cooking pots, they made their way to emergency shelters.
The Philippines endures around 20 major storms every year, many of them deadly.
Haima is the second typhoon to hit the Philippines in a week, after Sarika struck on Sunday. At least one person was killed in that storm, and three people are still missing.

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