Year's strongest typhoon blasts Philippines - WFLA News Channel 8

Year's strongest typhoon blasts Philippines

Posted: Updated:
Nearly 720,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes Nearly 720,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The strongest typhoon this year slammed into the central Philippines on Friday, setting off landslides and knocking out power and communication lines in several provinces. At least four people died.

Huge, fast-paced Typhoon Haiyan raced across a string of islands from east to west - Samar, Leyte, Cebu and Panay- and lashed beach communities with over 200 kilometer (125 mile) per hour winds. Nearly 720,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes.

RELATED STORY: Strongest typhoon of the year slams into the Philippines

Due to cut-off communications, it was impossible to know the full extent of casualties and damage. At least 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.

Southern Leyte Gov. Roger Mercado said the super typhoon triggered landslides that blocked roads, uprooted trees and ripped 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 mayors in the province had 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 massive loss of lives and property."

Weather officials said Haiyan had sustained winds of 235 kph (147 mph) 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.

Eduardo del Rosario, head of the disaster response agency, said a typhoon of similar strength that hit the Philippines in 1990 killed 508 people and left 246 missing, but this time authorities had taken pre-emptive evacuation and other measures to minimize casualties.

The Philippines, which is hit by about 20 typhoons and storms a year, has in recent years become more serious about preparations to reduce deaths. Public service announcements are more frequent as are warnings issued by the president and high-ranking officials, regularly carried on radio and TV and social networking sites.

Provincial governors and mayors have taken a hands-on approach during crises, supervising evacuations, inspecting shelters and efforts to stockpile food and relief supplies.

By 5 p.m. Friday, the typhoon - one of the strongest storms ever - was centered to the west of Aklan province on Panay Island, 320 kilometers (200 miles) south of Manila, after blasting the island resort of Boracay.

Forecasters said it was expected to move out over water south of Mindoro island Friday evening and into the South China Sea on Saturday, heading toward Vietnam.

Among the evacuees 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.

Jeff Masters, a former hurricane meteorologist who is meteorology director at the private company Weather Underground, said the storm was 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.

The U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center said shortly before the typhoon made landfall that its maximum sustained winds were 314 kph (195 mph), with gusts up to 379 kph (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 the average for 10 minutes.

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

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.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:49 AM EDT2014-09-01 10:49:59 GMT
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:03 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:03:34 GMT
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
  • NewsMore>>

  • Labor Day - more than just a day off

    Labor Day - more than just a day off

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:41 AM EDT2014-09-01 10:41:03 GMT
    While many people have the day off work, the day is actually meant to celebrate the achievements and contributions of American workers.
    While many people have the day off work, the day is actually meant to celebrate the achievements and contributions of American workers.
  • Two shot outside party in Tampa

    Two shot outside party in Tampa

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:59 AM EDT2014-09-01 07:59:20 GMT
    Two people have gunshot wounds after a shooting outside a party in Tampa early Sunday morning, Tampa police said. 
    Two people have gunshot wounds after a shooting outside a party in Tampa early Sunday morning, Tampa police said. 
  • Pilot dies in plane crash near downtown St. Pete

    Pilot dies in plane crash near downtown St. Pete

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:44 AM EDT2014-09-01 07:44:26 GMT
    Rescue boaters are on the scene of a downed banner plane near Albert Whitted Airport.Rescue boaters are on the scene of a downed banner plane near Albert Whitted Airport.
    The pilot of a banner plane that crashed into the water near Albert Whitted Airport has died, St. Petersburg police officials said. 
    The pilot of a banner plane that crashed into the water near Albert Whitted Airport has died, St. Petersburg police officials said. 

  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.