Super Typhoon Haima strikes northern Philippines

October 20, 2016 11:30 am

One of the most powerful typhoons to ever hit the Philippines destroyed houses, tore roofs off schools and ripped giant trees out of the ground on Thursday, but there were no immediate reports of deaths.

Super Typhoon Haima hit the northern province of Cagayan late on Wednesday night with winds similar to those of catastrophic Haiyan in 2013, which was then the strongest storm to strike the disaster-prone Southeast Asian archipelago and claimed more than 7,350 lives. Homes, schools and crops destroyed as powerful typhoon strikes main island of Luzon.

Haima roared across mountain and farming communities of the northern regions of the main island of Luzon overnight, and by morning a picture was emerging of large-scale destruction.

“Rice and corn plants as far as the eye can see are flattened,” Villamor Visaya, a university teacher in Ilagan, one of the main northern cities with a population of 130,000 people, told the AFP agency by phone.

“Many houses were destroyed. I saw one school building crushed under a large tree … it was as if our house was being pulled from its foundations.”

Haima hit coastal towns facing the Pacific Ocean with sustained winds of 225km an hour, and wind gusts of up to 315km/hr.

It weakened overnight as it rammed into giant mountain ranges and by Thursday morning had passed over the western edge of Luzon and into the South China Sea, heading towards southern China.

Jefferson Soriano, mayor of Tuguegarao, the capital of Cagayan where Haima made landfall, reported badly damaged schools and gymnasiums where people had sought shelter.

“They are calling for help because the roofs have been torn off. The problem is, our rescuers here are unable to go out and help,” Soriano told DZMM radio before dawn while the storm was still raging.

In in the mountains of Carranglan, a town of about 40,000 people, on the southern edge of the typhoon’s direct path, landslides had left a bus trapped in mud on Thursday morning.

Men walked knee-deep through mud and floodwaters across a destroyed road in Carranglan, while aluminium roof sheeting lay on a nearby hillside.

Typhoon Haima landed on the northern Philippines, killing at least four people and displacing thousands of others in the Southeast Asian country.
The powerful typhoon struck late on Wednesday with rains and ferocious winds of 225 kilometers per hour and of 315 kilometers in some coastal areas.
Official reports said the storm, strongest in power to hit the Philippines in three years, inflicted severe damage on farms and houses, forcing nearly 100,000 people to evacuate high-risk communities on its path.

Government workers cut branches of an uprooted tree along a road after Typhoon Haima struck the city of Laoag, in the northern Philippines, October 20, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

Landslides and flooding have caused power outages and the blocking of roads. Communication lines are also cut off.
Among the reported fatalities were two construction workers who died when a landslide buried their shanty in the mountainous province of Benguet and two villagers who drowned in floodwaters in the same area.
“We have received several reports of roofs that were ripped off because of strong winds,” said Mina Marasigan, a spokeswoman at the Filipino disaster risk management agency. “Power lines have been cut off and mobile phone signals were intermittent.”

Family members fix the roof of their damaged house at the height of Typhoon Haima in the town of Ilagan, Isabela Province, north of Manila, October 20, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Storms generated over the Pacific Ocean often hit the Philippines as the first major landmass before approaching the southern coasts of China and other countries. About 20 major storms are recorded in the Southeast Asian archipelago each year, with most of them inflicting casualties.
Haiyan was the deadliest of such typhoons, which left huge destruction in the heavily-populated areas of the central Philippines and claiming more than 7,350 lives three years ago.
Experts said Haima could be the second strongest after Haiyan.
Typhoon Sarika had hit the northern Philippines days earlier, leaving one person dead and three others unaccounted for.
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