Philippine authorities will evacuate thousands in provinces east of the country ahead of typhoon Haiyan, which may become the strongest cyclone to hit the Southeast Asian nation this year.
Haiyan will enter Philippine waters tomorrow morning, packing winds of at least 185 kilometers per hour when it lands on the provinces of Samar and Leyte in the afternoon of Nov. 8, state weather forecaster Glaiza Escullar said in a telephone interview. The nation’s highest storm alert of 4 may be reached in the provinces on the storm’s path while the capital may deal with a signal number 3 cyclone, Escullar said.
Local governments have been directed to immediately evacuate residents in coastal areas and to mobilize search and rescue teams in places prone to landslides and flash floods, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said in a statement. Disaster-response troops, equipment and supplies have been put in place in areas threatened by a possible “super typhoon,” police Senior Superintendent Theodore Sindac said.
The Philippines, battered by about 20 cyclones a year, topped a list of 10 countries most affected by natural disasters in 2012 with more than 2,000 deaths, according to a report by the Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. Monsoon rains swamped more than half of the Metro Manila region in August, killing at least 27 and shutting offices and financial markets for two days.
The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts super typhoon Haiyan’s maximum sustained winds at 135 knots (250 kilometers) per hour and gusts of up to 306 kilometers per hour. Tropical cyclone Usagi, the world’s strongest storm this year had wind gusts of as much as 245 kilometers per hour, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau on Sept. 20.
Local governments in Bohol province where more than 200 people were killed after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Oct. 15 will move residents still living in tents and makeshift shelters in open areas to alternative evacuation sites, said Flor Gaviola from the provincial civil defense unit.
Ahead of the storm, Bohol and Cebu, which was also rocked by last month’s tremor, suspended classes on Nov. 7 and 8, the education department said on its Twitter account. Albay Governor Joey Salceda, in his Facebook account, said offices and schools in the province will be shut starting tomorrow.
Typhoon Ketsana killed more than 400 people when it swamped Manila and parts of Luzon in 2009. Storm Washi killed more than 1,200 people, mostly in Mindanao, in December 2011. At least 222 died in the Oct. 15 earthquake in the Visayas.
Among the strongest typhoons to have crossed the Philippines is storm Durian in 2006 with gusts of up to 320 kilometers per hour, according to the weather bureau. Usagi, which mainly hit the Batanes islands in northern Philippines, killed at least 3.
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