Thousands evacuated as Philippine residents brace for Typhoon Haiyan
Philippine authorities were yesterday evacuating thousands of people in eastern provinces ahead of Typhoon Haiyan, predicted to be the strongest cyclone to hit the Southeast Asian nation this year.
Haiyan was expected to enter Philippine waters this morning, and to be packing winds of at least 185km/h when it makes landfall in Samar and Leyte provinces tomorrow, state weather forecaster Glaiza Escullar said.
The nation's highest storm alert of 4 may be reached in the provinces on the storm's path while the No. 3 alert may be raised in the capital, Escullar said.
Local governments have been directed to immediately evacuate residents in coastal areas and to mobilise search and rescue teams in places prone to landslides and flash floods, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas said.
Disaster-response troops, equipment and supplies have been put in place in areas threatened by the possible "super typhoon", police Senior Superintendent Theodore Sindac said.
The Philippines, battered by about 20 cyclones a year, topped a list of 10 countries most affected by natural disasters last year with more than 2,000 deaths, according to a report by the Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. Monsoon rains swamped more than half of the Metro Manila region in August, killing at least 27 and shutting offices and financial markets for two days.
The US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre forecasts super typhoon Haiyan's maximum sustained winds at 250km/h and gusts of up to 306km/h hour. Tropical cyclone Usagi, the world's strongest storm this year, had wind gusts of 245km/h, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau.
In Bohol province, where more than 200 people were killed after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake on October 15, residents still living in tents and makeshift shelters will be moved, said Flor Gaviola from the provincial civil defence unit.
Typhoon Ketsana killed more than 400 people when it swamped Manila and parts of Luzon in 2009. Another storm, Washi, killed more than 1,200 people, mostly in Mindanao, in December 2011. At least 222 died in the October 15 earthquake in the Visayas.