Deaths, devastation as huge hurricane hits

A man takes a photo on a waterfront as Typhoon Haima approaches in Hong Kong, China, October 21, 2016. File photo  Picture: BOBBY YIP / REUTERS
A man takes a photo on a waterfront as Typhoon Haima approaches in Hong Kong, China, October 21, 2016. File photo. Picture: BOBBY YIP / REUTERS

One of the most powerful typhoon sever to hit the Philippines killed at least eight people yesterday as ferocious gales and landslides destroyed tens of thousands of homes.

Super Typhoon Haima struck late on Wednesday night with winds similar to those of catastrophic Haiyan in2013, which was then the strongest storm to strike the disaster-prone South east Asian archipelago and claimed more than 7 350 lives.

Haima had then roared across mountain and farming communities of the northern regions of the main island of Luzon overnight, causing widespread destruction and killing at least eight people, authorities said.

“We were frightened because of the strong winds. There was no power, no help coming,” Jovy Dalupan, 20, said as she sheltered on the side of a highway in San Pablo, a badly damaged town of 20 000 people.

Dalupan, her two young daughters and husband were forced to flee to the highway along with their neighbours during the height of the storm when their shanty homes, made of plywood, were ripped apart.

“We were soaked when the roof flew off, even my little babies got drenched. . . all of our clothes were drenched, ”she said.

“We have nothing to change into.” Haima hit coastal towns facing the Pacific Ocean with sustained winds of225km/h and wind gusts of up to315km/h.

It weakened overnight as it rammed into giant mountain ranges and by yesterday morning had passed over the western edge of Luzon and into the South China Sea, heading towards southern China.

Manuel Mamba, the governor of Cagayan, a province of 600 000 people neighbouring Isabela where Haima made landfall, said the entire region was without power and there was widespread destruction. “ Almost every house here has been damaged,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday night all possible preparations had been made for Haima, with tens of thousands of people evacuated, but he still struck an ominous tone.

“We only pray we be spared the destruction such as the previous times, which brought agony and suffering,” Duterte said in Beijing, where he was on a state visit.

“But we are ready. Everything has been deployed.”

About 10 million people across the northern parts of Luzon were at risk, according to the government’s disaster risk management council.

Authorities said two of those killed, both teenagers, had been buried in a land slide while sleeping in a house in Ifugao, a mountainous area that is home to stunning rice terraces that are listed as a World Heritage site.

Two other people had been buried in a shanty in another mountainous region, officials said.

But with authorities in many devastated areas still unable to report back because of power and communication lines being cut, the death toll was expected to rise.

The Philippines endures about 20major storms each year.

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