Update, Nov. 08, 9:11 ET:
Officials say that there have been more than 100 deaths so far in the wake of supertyphoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines). Despite making five landfalls, the storm has maintained its strength and steady westward pace, and will affect the capital Manila with heavy rain and harsh winds at 5 or 6 pm local time. Haiyan is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility early Saturday morning (local time) and continue toward Vietnam, however with diminished power.
A total of 453 flights, 445 domestic and eight international, have been cancelled.
Haiyan is reported to have surpassed the Dvorak scale, commonly used to estimate typhoon intensity. According to Dr. Jeff Masters at wunderground.com, Haiyan made landfall at 310 kph, making it the strongest typhoon to reach land in recorded history.
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Supertyphoon Haiyan , the strongest storm to form on the planet this year, pounded into central Philippines at 4.40 am on Friday, threatening more than 12 million people along its path.
Images from Samar island, where the storm first made landfall, show blinding sheets of rain, roofs thrashing around like wayward kites, roads filling up with debris from an almost five meter high storm surge and witnesses speaking of a terrifying roar as wind gusts reach 275 kph.
“We have received reports of vast devastation in the city of Tacloban,” says Minnie Portales, director of public engagement at the Christian humanitarian organization World Vision. “People are fearing for their lives.”
About a million people have already been evacuated from their homes, but in Bohol, where a massive earthquake claimed over two hundred lives in mid-October, people have been wary of seeking shelter.
“People are afraid of going into enclosed places, they’ve been living with aftershocks for more than three weeks,” says Aaron Aspi, Emergency Communications Specialist at World Vision in Bohol.
Bohol is on the second highest hurricane alert, but still an unknown number of the at least five thousand people living in tents since the earthquake have stayed put.
“They live in a dilemma,” says Aspi. “Some of the evacuation centers have been compromised by the earthquake, but there are also risks along the roadside leading there. There are imminent threats of landslides, roads have been damaged and bridges weakened.”
Power has been shut down in the central province of Cebu, as the storm, which goes by the name of Yolanda in the Philippines, made landfall there at 9.40 and 10.40 local time.
Food packs and health kits have been readied for the population, and the army and police are on alert to supply emergency services, but all actions are being hampered by damaged infrastructure, the inability to use water or air transportation and the difficulty of communicating with affected areas.
The Philippine government has forecast that there will be a huge need for water and food, and that there will be an immense impact on people’s livelihoods, as the storm wreaks havoc on an impoverished population’s agriculture.
By the evening, the center of the 600 km wide Haiyan is expected to be in the vicinity of Coron, Palawan, in western Philippines.