One million people forced to flee as super typhoon hits Philippines with 313kph gales
THE strongest typhoon in the world this year and possibly the most powerful ever to hit land battered the Philippines today, forcing more than a million people to flee, cutting power and blowing houses apart.
Haiyan, a category-5 super typhoon, scoured the northern tip of Cebu Province and headed west towards Boracay island, both tourist destinations, after lashing the central islands of Leyte and Samar with 275 kph gales and five to six-metre-high waves.
Three people were killed and seven injured, national disaster agency spokesman Rey Balido told a news briefing at the main army base in Manila.
Power and communications in the three large island provinces of Samar, Leyte and Bohol were almost completely down but the government and telephone service providers promised to restore them within 24 hours.
Authorities warned that more than 12 million people were at risk, including residents of Cebu city, which has a population of about 2.5 million, and areas still reeling from a deadly 2011 storm and a 7.2-magnitude quake last month.
"The super typhoon likely made landfall with winds near 313kph. This makes Haiyan the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall," said Jeff Masters of US-based Weather Underground.
Typhoons and cyclones of that magnitude can blow apart storm shelters with the pressure they create.
"Power is off all across the island and the streets are deserted," said Lionel Dosdosa, an International Organisation for Migration co-ordinator on Bohol island, the epicentre of last month's earthquake that killed 222 and displaced thousands.