At least 4 killed as super Typhoon Haiyan batters the Philippines
One of the strongest storms ever recorded battered the central Philippines on Friday, ripping off rooftops, knocking out power and communications and forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
At least four people were confirmed killed as super Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, made landfall on Samar and raced across Leyte, Cebu, Panay and other nearby islands, officials said. They included a person killed by a falling tree, two who were electrocuted, and a 2-year-old who was struck by lightning.
Local television stations reported that bodies were washing up on shore and being found along roadways. But the Associated Press said the island nation in the western Pacific Ocean appeared to have avoided a major disaster because the storm sped through before causing more serious damage.
Last year, the slower-moving Typhoon Bopha killed more than 1,000 people.
More than 700,000 people were evacuated ahead of the storm, which could also limit the death toll, according to officials at the national disaster reponse agency. Many sought shelter at evacuation centers set up in 31 provinces.
Jiggy Manicad, a reporter for Philippines’ GMA television network said strong winds ripped off the roof of a church in the town of Palo, on Leyte, where he estimated at least 20 bodies were brought. Manicad said it felt like being “inside a washing machine,” as 124 mph winds whipped around his team for four hours.
Local news outlets said the storm knocked down trees and triggered landslides that made some roads impassible. Storm surges caused flooding in a large part of Tacloban city, on the island of Leyte, ABS-CBN television reported.
Dozens of flights were canceled, schools and offices closed, and ferry services were suspended, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.
The U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center said the Category 5 storm had sustained winds of 195 mph with gusts up to 235 mph. That was higher than local estimates. But if correct, it would be the highest figures recorded for a tropical cyclone when it made landfall, AP said.
The storm was expected to move out of the Philippines on Saturday morning and was on a path that could put it in Vietnam in the coming days, forecasters said.
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