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Officials raise alarm over Philippines typhoon

Haiyan to make landfall in Samar and Leyte, central Philippines on Friday

Gulf News

Manila: Local government officials called for prayers and physical preparations as Tropical Storm “Haiyan”, with winds at peak intensity of 241km/h, was predicted to make a landfall in central Philippines on Friday, officials said.

Signal storm number 4 will be raised if Haiyan’s wind and gustiness will not weaken beyond 240km/h when it enters central Philippines on Thursday and makes landfall on Samar and Leyte in the Visayas on Friday, said the government-run Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), adding it will be locally called Typhoon Yolanda.

Because of strong winds, Typhoon Haiyan’s diameter will be wider. Its predicted upward-westward path as it cuts the entire Visayas horizontally, from the eastern seaboard, the Pacific Ocean, to the western seaboard, the South China Sea, will affect nearby areas such as the Bicol region and Laguna in southern Luzon, Pagasa said.

It might also hit Metro Manila if it moves west northwest, Pagasa said, adding it is expected to exit through Mindoro, in southern Luzon, at the western seaboard, towards the South China Sea either on Saturday or Sunday.

The disaster councils in Eastern and Central Visayas were advised to start pre-emptive evacuation and aim for zero casualty, said Flor Gaviola, administration officer of the Office of Civil Defence in region 7.

Schools, gymnasiums or multipurpose halls in safe places were identified as evacuation centres. They were inspected for destruction they might have sustained when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Bohol (central Philippines) last October 15, said Gaviola.

Local government officials were advised to start a continuous monitoring of residents on riverbanks and in landslide-and flood-prone areas. “They should be transferred to safe places immediately with the onset of floods and landslides, after the arrival of the typhoon,” said Gaviola.

Fishermen in the Visayas were told early not to go fishing, said Rey Gozon, regional chair of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

All local disaster officials and rescue forces in the Bicol region were on red alert, said Governor Joey Salceda.

Heightened alert level was likewise raised in Mindoro, where the typhoon is expected to exit towards the South China Sea.

The Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) also dubbed Haiyan as a super typhoon.

Some 21 deadly typhoons visit the Philippines every year, from June to November.