MANILA, Philippines – Monster winds tore roofs off buildings and giant waves washed away homes, terrifying millions of Filipinos as one of the world’s most powerful typhoons in the past century battered the Philippines Friday, November 8.
“It’s like we’re inside a washing machine,” recalled a lawmaker based in Dinagat Islands as she described the strong winds that visited the province Thursday night.
Typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan), known as the most powerful storm of 2013, made landfall at Guiuan, Eastern Samar on Friday morning, leaving at least 3 dead and isolating communities in Leyte and Samar as of 4:00 pm Friday. (Read: #YolandaPH Live Blog)
The badly hit areas lost communication lines and electricity, specifically Eastern Samar and Leyte. At least 5 areas lost their cellular communications, while the Visayan Electric Cooperative shut power off for 8 Cebu cities citing safety reasons.
This is making it difficult for government and non-governmental organizations to determine the extent of the super typhoon’s damage and the number of communities that need aid. (Help Rappler map critical reports here.)
Business ground to a halt in most of the Visayas as government stopped ships from sailing and airlines cancelled flights to the region. The government also closed at least 11 local airports in Southern Luzon and the Visayas.
Yolanda is the country’s 24th tropical storm or typhoon of the year, exceeding the annual average.
An estimated 54 million residents will be affected in the 40 provinces and regions, including Metro Manila, that will be within Yolanda’s reach.
The storm’s path includes a number of the Philippines’ poorest provinces, such as Northern Samar, Masbate, and Antique. Bohol, a province that was still recovering from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake, was also set to be affected. (Read: Some of PH’s poorest provinces along Yolanda’s path)
Storm surges – cyclone-induced floods – were also a cause for concern. The surges were expected to go over 16 feet in various areas, with even the weakest surges expected to breach the 3-foot mark. (Read: Storm surges warned)
Tacloban badly hit
The typhoon began its sweep by landing in Eastern Samar and making its way to Leyte. Low-lying areas in the provinces, including Tacloban City, were flooded. (Read: Storm surge floods Tacloban)
Residents of Dinagat Islands also reported powerful winds on the eve of the storm.(Read: #YolandaPH strikes Dinagat). Yolanda also struck Surigao del Norte, with over 28,000 residents taking shelter in a number of evacuation centers.
Early reports counted at least 3 people as casualties of the typhoon.
A total of 15 crew members from two cargo barges carrying limestone were rescued after the barges were forced to seek shelter in Guindulman, Bohol. One of the crew members from those barges remains missing.
At least 5 areas lost their cellular communications, while the Visayan Electric Cooperative shut power off for 8 Cebu cities citing safety reasons.
Metro Manila is expected to receive heavy rainfall by 5:00 pm. Meanwhile, the Philippine government has pledged to exert its “full force” to address the damage caused by the typhoon. – with reports from Agence France-Presse and Victor Barreiro Jr/Rappler.com