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Year’s strongest typhoon blasts Philippines

Hawaii residents fear for the safety of relatives living in storm's path

By Oliver Teves and Teresa Cerojano

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 10:59 p.m. HST, Nov 07, 2013

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The strongest typhoon this year slammed into the Philippines on Friday, setting off landslides, knocking out power in several provinces and cutting communications in the country’s central region of island provinces. Four people died.

Telephone lines appeared down as it was difficult to get through to the landfall site 650 kilometers (405 miles) southeast of Manila where Typhoon Haiyan — one of the strongest typhoons ever — slammed into the southern tip of Samar island before barreling on to Leyte Island.

Two people were electrocuted in storm-related accidents, one person was killed by a fallen tree and another was struck by lightning, official reports said.

Close to 720,000 people had been evacuated from towns and villages in the typhoon’s path across the central Philippines, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said. Among them were thousands of residents of Bohol who had been camped in tents and other makeshift shelters after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the island province last month.

Southern Leyte Gov. Roger Mercado said 31,000 people were evacuated in his landslide-prone mountainous province before the super typhoon struck, knocking out power, setting off small landslides that blocked roads in rural areas, uprooting trees and ripping roofs off houses around his residence.

The dense clouds and heavy rains made the day seem almost as dark as night, he said.

“When you’re faced with such a scenario, you can only pray, and pray and pray,” Mercado told The Associated Press by telephone, adding that his town mayors have not called in to report any major damage.

“I hope that means they were spared and not the other way around,” he said. “My worst fear is there will be many massive loss of lives and property.”

Meanwhile in Hawaii, Mililani resident Gloria Rom-baoa said she fears for her relatives who reside in the central Philippines, a region in the direct path of the strongest typhoon of the year.

"I'm worried," said Rom-baoa, whose four sisters and mother reside in the Davao region of Min-da-nao, on Thursday. "I hope it doesn't hit them."

Rombaoa and other Hawaii residents who have family members in the Philippines are bracing for Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Television images from Tacloban city on Leyte Island showed a street under knee-deep floodwater carrying debris that had been blown down by the fierce winds. Tin roofing sheets ripped from buildings were flying above the street.

Visibility was so poor that only the silhouette of a local reporter could be seen through the driving rain.
Weather officials said that Haiyan had sustained winds at 235 kilometers (147 miles) per hour, with gusts of 275 kph (170 mph) when it made landfall. That makes it the strongest typhoon this year, said Aldczar Aurelio of the government’s weather bureau.

Gener Quitlong, another weather forecaster, said the typhoon was not losing much of its strength because there is no large land mass to slow it down since the region is comprised of islands with no tall mountains.

The typhoon — the 24th serious storm to hit the Philippines this year — is forecast to blow toward the South China Sea on Saturday, heading toward Vietnam.

Jeff Masters, a former hurricane meteorologist who is meteorology director at the private firm Weather Underground, said the storm had been poised to be the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded at landfall. He warned of “catastrophic damage.”

But he said the Philippines might get a small break because the storm is so fast moving that flooding from heavy rains — usually the cause of most deaths from typhoons in the Philippines — may not be as bad.

As it approached the Philippines, the storm was one of the strongest on record.

The U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center said shortly before the typhoon made landfall that its maximum sustained winds were 314 kilometers per hour (195 mph), with gusts up to 379 kilometers per hour (235 mph). Those measurements are different than local weather data because the U.S. Navy center measures the average wind speed for 1 minute while local forecasters measure average for 10 minutes.

Hurricane Camille, a 1969 storm, had wind speeds that reached 305 kph (190 mph) at landfall in the United States, Masters said.

Officials in Cebu province have shut down electric service to the northern part of the province to avoid electrocutions in case power pylons are toppled, said assistant regional civil defense chief Flor Gaviola.

President Benigno Aquino III assured the public of war-like preparations, with three C-130 air force cargo planes and 32 military helicopters and planes on standby, along with 20 navy ships.

Associated Press writers Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

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cojef wrote:
One wonders why the Philippines receive more than their of the storms year after year. Their citizens are the most resilient. The storm surges are the most destructive and cause the most lost of lives. Like Hawaii people like to live in the low coastal regions and thus the lost of lives are immense. Give me the high ground. We live at an elevation exceeding 900 feet. Safe, I hope, but then again earthquakes are our lot.
on November 7,2013 | 11:43AM
serious wrote:
cojef, I flew for the Air Weather Service as a pilot for four years and have been in the eye of 63 typhoons. They follow the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone and the heat of the Pacific generates a cyclonic flow that through the rotation of the earth sends them that way. Typhoons are the same, in name, as hurricanes, but with the heat of the Pacific they are more massive and destructive. The asian countries are low lying and don't have countries in-between to buffer the impact. BTW, we flew into them with B-50 aircraft that we unpressurized at 10,000 ft--the heat and rainfall---something else. A thrill a minute!!
on November 7,2013 | 12:08PM
allie wrote:
well said..let us pray for the Phillipines
on November 7,2013 | 01:09PM
islandsun wrote:
This storm looks nasty. Hope it doesn't cause too much trouble for them. Trouble for them is trouble for us because it could double immigration.
on November 7,2013 | 12:42PM
eoe wrote:
Good. Filipinos work three times harder than any Americans I know.
on November 7,2013 | 12:50PM
allie wrote:
silly, irresponsible comment
on November 7,2013 | 01:08PM
aomohoa wrote:
I have to agree with you on this one allie.
on November 7,2013 | 06:31PM
BRock wrote:
This is a case of the pots calling the kettles black. LOL
on November 7,2013 | 06:38PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Dude h ere is what I suggest - there will be a ton of damage from this storm. People will die. There will be misery for the Filipino people. That immigration comment - out of line.
on November 7,2013 | 02:13PM
aomohoa wrote:
Heartless, stupid and insensitive comment.
on November 7,2013 | 06:32PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
island, double immigration? Where are your sources, or is this paranoic speculation?
on November 7,2013 | 08:54PM
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