clear
Monday May 4th, 2015 9:11AM

Year's strongest typhoon blasts Philippines

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
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.

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.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 week ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 3 weeks ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 3 weeks ago )
US Capitol lockdown lifted after man fatally shoots himself
WASHINGTON (AP) — A precautionary lockdown of the U.S. Capitol was lifted after about two hours Saturday following a suicide by a man carrying a protest sign.The man died after shooting himself on the...
6:15PM ( 3 weeks ago )