November 7, 2013 – Philippines Braces for Super-Typhoon Haiyan: Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has ordered government officials to aim for zero casualties as the country braces for what appears to be the strongest typhoon to hit the Southeast Asian nation this year.
Super-typhoon Haiyan, which has a diameter of 600 kilometers and is moving westward at 30 kilometers an hour, is expected to hit the central Philippine islands of Leyte and Samar early on Friday, according to the state weather bureau, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, or PAG-ASA.
It is the 24th typhoon to enter a country that averages 18 to 20 typhoons a year and is prone to other natural disasters. The eye of typhoon Haiyan is expected to brush the northern part of Cebu and Bohol provinces, where a 7.2-magnitude earthquake last month wrought widespread devastation.
An update to the Philippines earthquake follows: The death toll from the magnitude-7.2 earthquake in the central Philippines rose to 183, authorities said.
The massive quake also destroyed more 8,600 homes in Quezon City, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. The bulk of the casualties were in Bohol province. Bohol residents struggle to recover after quake. The council said 583 people were injured and 13 were missing.
The storm entered Philippine waters Thursday morning and is already packing gusts of up to 250 kilometers an hour (155 MPH). Glaiza Escullar, a weather forecaster at PAG-ASA told the Wall Street Journal that Haiyan could intensify further before making landfall, and would bring heavy to intense rains that could cause flooding and landslides.
Despite the coming storm, Bohol Congressman Art Yap said residents of the province appear calm.
“A lot of families whose houses are still standing after the earthquake are taking in their neighbors,” he told the Wall Street Journal by phone. “Others living in tents are being brought to gymnasiums and other government facilities.”
Mr. Yap said trees are being cut while residents are starting to store water and food, but noted that “there’s no panic in buying supplies.”
Bohol is of particular concern for the government due to the threat of landslides since more than 100 sinkholes have been discovered since the earthquake. Flood waters caused by heavy rains could further weaken the ground above the sinkholes and cause them to collapse.
Classes were suspended early on Thursday in several provinces in the central Philippines, with many of the classrooms scheduled for use as evacuation centers.
Luz Tacal, the head of Samar province’s social welfare office, said government officials continue to fine-tune preparations to prevent casualties by moving resident’s away flood and landslide prone areas, as well as away from seacoasts that could be pounded by Haiyan. She said rain had started to shower the province on Thursday but no pre-emptive evacuation had been ordered.
Jessar Adornado, a public information officer at the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Office in Region 5, which covers the provinces in Bicol region in the section of the main island of Luzon, said that a pre-emptive evacuation has been ordered in the province of Albay, around 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Leyte. (Credits – The Wall Street Journal, Southeast Asia; CNN and The European Pressphoto Agency).
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