Super typhoon slams into country's north-eastern region
Super Typhoon Haima slammed into the northeastern Philippine coast late yesterday with ferocious winds and rain that rekindled fears and memories from the catastrophe wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
Haima, which has sustained winds of 225 kilometres (140 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 315 kph (195 mph), made landfall at Penablanca town in Cagayan province shortly before midnight, weather officials said. Many villages lost power and intense winds tore tin roofs off houses.
"We can't go out because the wind is so intense, trees are being forced down," Councillor Elisa Arugay told DZMM radio from Camasi village in Penablanca.
Officials were concerned because the powerful typhoon struck at night and is expected to hit towns and cities amid power outages. After Cagayan, Haima is forecast to blow across the mountainous province of Apayao and then lash Ilocos Norte province before exiting into the South China Sea this morning.
The Government's weather agency raised the storm warning to the highest level in six northern provinces, which meant that powerful winds could inflict "very heavy to widespread damage" and whip up storm surges of up to five metres (16 feet), enough to engulf shanties in many rural communities.
"We are possibly dealing with a typhoon that is even stronger than Typhoon Yolanda," said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, referring to the local name for Haiyan. "We must, therefore, brace ourselves for the possible effects of a typhoon of this magnitude."
Many of the provinces are still recovering from powerful Typhoon Sarika, which left at least two people dead and displaced tens of thousands of villagers last weekend. The region was spared from a major disaster due in part to the storm's speed, officials said.