6:53 am - Tuesday October 26, 2021

100 dead in Strong Philippines typhoon

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100 dead in Strong Philippines typhoon
100 dead in Strong Philippines typhoon

More than 100 people were killed and nearly 800,000 displaced in the Philippines after one of the strongest typhoons on record flattened homes and triggered storm surges that flooded wide areas, officials said Saturday.

Typhoon Haiyan tore through the eastern and central Philippines on Friday, toppling power lines and knocking out communications. Fierce winds ripped roofs off buildings as raging floodwaters swept debris and left vehicles piled on top of each other in streets.

Bodies were lying on the streets in the eastern province of Leyte, particularly the capital city of Tacloban, according to Captain John Andrews, a deputy director general of the civil aviation authority.

Andrews said the agency’s station manager in Tacloban City also reported that more than 100 people were injured.

“We received a message from our station manager in Tacloban and his message stated that 100 plus dead lying in the streets with 100 plus injured,” he told a Manila television channel. “They were requesting medic operations, medical evacuation and relief.” National disaster relief agency spokesman Reynaldo Balido said the toll was expected to jump as reports trickle in from devastated areas unable to communicate now.

“Yolanda brought massive damage and almost no houses were left standing,” he said, referring to the typhoon’s Philippine name. “Many were reported killed and we are trying to get initial numbers so we don’t get shocked by the increase.” Balido said nearly 800,000 people were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in emergency shelters, some of which were also damaged by the storm in the eastern province of Leyte, which bore the brunt of the typhoon.

“Many people are out in the streets because they have nowhere else to go to,” he said.

Authorities said limited communication services made it difficult to confirm the extent of the damage in the province of about 1.7 million people.

“We are very concerned about the situation there,” Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said. “Our priority now is reaching as many people who need help as possible. Our focus is on rescue and relief operations.” Almendras said initial reports indicated storm surges reaching at least three metres swept through many areas in Leyte, including the capital city of Tacloban.

Haiyan was packing maximum winds of 235 km and gusts of up to 275 kph when it hit and went “island-hopping” in the Philippines, according to the national weather bureau.

Other weather organisations placed its maximum winds at 315 kph and gusts at 380 kph.

The storm weakened after making six landfalls in the eastern and central Philippines, with its maximum winds easing to 175 kph and gusts to 210 kph, the weather bureau said. It was expected to be out of the Philippines Saturday afternoon.

Meteorologists said Haiyan is the largest typhoon in the world since Typhoon Tip in October 1979, which killed nearly 100 people in Japan and Guam.

It is one of the strongest to hit the Philippines, which is battered by at least 20 cyclones every year. It was stronger than Typhoon Bopha that left more than 1,800 people dead or missing in the southern region of Mindanao in 2012.

Houses flattened

“Bodies are lying on the street,” said Captain John Andrews, deputy director general of the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, citing a 5am message from a station manager who only makes contact every four hours to conserve battery power.

He said the deaths were likely caused by huge waves whipped up by the typhoon,

Before communications were cut on Friday, city officials had reported heavy flooding. Mobile phone networks, power lines and trees were toppled and most roads were cut off.

“Almost all houses were destroyed, many are totally damaged.  Only a few are left standing, but with partial damage,” said Major Rey Balido, a spokesman for the national disaster agency, adding that severed communication links made it hard to fix casualties.

In the island province of Capiz, at least six people were killed and 10 missing, according to the provincial disaster response agency.

As much as 90 percent of the houses and buildings in the province were also destroyed, according to national media.

About a million people took shelter in 37 provinces after President Benigno Aquino appealed to those in the typhoon’s path to leave vulnerable areas.

Philippine Red Cross chief Gwendolyn Pang told the AFP news agency that one of their top priorities was trying to re-establish contact or reach communities on the eastern islands of Leyte and Samar.

Another area of particular concern was Guiuan, a fishing town of about 40,000 people on Samar that was the first to be hit after Haiyan swept in from the Pacific Ocean. The Red Cross’s Pang said contact had not yet been made with

Pang also expressed concern for people in the province of Capiz, about 200km west of Tacloban, on Panay island where she said most of the region’s infrastructure had been destroyed and many houses “flattened to the ground”.

Meteorologists said the impact may not have been as strong as feared because the storm was moving so quickly, reducing the risk of flooding and landslides from torrential rain, the biggest causes of typhoon casualties in the Philippines.

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