Nov 8, 2013

Philippines: thousands evacuated as Typhoon Haiyan strikes

Philippines
by
Kate Hodal
,
The Guardian
A wrecked van lies amid felled trees in Tacloban City on November 14, 2013 in Tacloban. Photo: Dondi Tawatao, Getty Images
A wrecked van lies amid felled trees in Tacloban City on November 14, 2013 in Tacloban. Photo: Dondi Tawatao, Getty Images

Typhoon Haiyan has hit the Philippines with winds of 195mph, with experts saying "catastrophic damage" will result from what is predicted to be the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in recorded history.

Thousands of people have been evacuated and thousands more have fled their homes as the category five storm sent waves as high as 5m (15ft) ashore on the islands of Leyte and Samar in the central Philippines, overturning powerlines and leaving streets knee-deep in water.

Haiyan – the Philippines' 25th typhoon so far this year – is expected to barrel through the archipelago close to Cebu, the nation's second-largest city and home to around 2.5 million people.

 Image from Japan Meteorological Agency's MTSAT of Haiyan over the Leyte Gulf. Photograph: Zuma/rex

With speeds at landfall of 195mph and gusts of up to 235mph, Haiyan is believed to be stronger than the world's last strongest tropical cyclone, hurricane Camille, which was recorded in the US at 190mph in 1969.

Although schools and offices have been closed and roughly a million people are in shelters scattered around 20 provinces, Haiyan's powerful winds could potentially blow off the roofs of storm-proof buildings and suck out their walls due to the sheer force of its energy, experts have said.