Typhoon Haima Batters Philippines; Weakened Storm Heads to China

By | October 20, 2016

More than 90,000 people were evacuated after Typhoon Haima left vast areas of the Philippines flooded and without electricity as the strongest storm to hit the nation this year heads toward China.

Haima, a Category 5 super typhoon before it reached land, weakened with winds of up to 150 kilometers (115 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 185 kilometers per hour as of 11 a.m. in Manila, the nation’s weather bureau said. The U.S. military’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center estimates that the storm will be 62 nautical miles from Hong Kong by Friday.

“The government is preparing for road reconnaissance for initial assessment of the damages,” Ricardo Jalad, chief of the Office of Civil Defense, said in a statement. The government had no immediate toll of deaths or injuries, but local media reported that several people had drowned.

The second storm to hit the Philippines’s main Luzon island in a week, Haima is nearly as powerful and than Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 people in 2013, state weather forecasters said.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated to safer ground, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its morning report. The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines said in an advisory that power was out in some northern provinces after the storm toppled transmission lines. In Pampanga province, north of Manila, more than 51,000 people were affected as 37 villages were submerged in flood water.

About 3,500 people, 300 rolling cargoes and 33 vessels have been left stranded in various ports in Luzon, the coast guard said, and more than a dozen domestic flights were canceled, with seven airports in the provinces remaining closed. With the storm disrupting communications in some parts of northern Luzon, provider Globe Telecom Inc. said it was preparing to restore services.

Flooding is the biggest concern in areas already saturated by Typhoon Sarika last weekend, said Weather Underground. The United Nations Global Disaster Alert and Coordination said before the storm hit that Haima may have a “high humanitarian impact” and could affect as many as 11.6 million people.

Two people died in a landslide in the mountain Benguet province, north of Manila, while two others drowned in floodwaters in nearby Ifugao province, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, citing local officials.

“If we can compare this to our past experiences, this typhoon is really different,” Isabela Governor Faustino Dy was quoted by ABS-CBN as saying. “It is extremely strong. If you’ve seen the film ‘Twister’, it is like that.”

The Philippines is among the world’s most disaster-prone countries, experiencing an average of 20 cyclones a year that form over the Pacific Ocean.

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