Second typhoon in a week smashes Philippines
THE Philippines has been smashed by two typhoons in less than a week.
Super typhoon Haima hit the northern province of Cagayan late on Wednesday night with sustained winds almost on a par with catastrophic Haiyan, which struck the archipelago and claimed more than 7350 lives in 2013.
Typhoon Haima followed typhoon Sarika which on Sunday claimed at least one life and left three people missing.
Haima roared across mountain and farming communities of the northern regions of the main island of Luzon overnight, and by morning a picture was emerging of widespread destruction.
"Rice and corn plants as far as the eye can see are flattened,” Villamor Visaya, a university teacher in Ilagan, one of the main northern cities with a population of 130,000 people, said.
"Many houses were destroyed. I saw one school building crushed under a large tree ... it was as if our house was being pulled from its foundations.”
Haima hit coastal towns facing the Pacific ocean with sustained winds of 225km/h (140mph), and gusts of up to 315km/h.
It weakened overnight as it hit mountain ranges and by 9am on Thursday was leaving the western edge of Luzon, heading towards southern China.
Jefferson Soriano, the mayor of Tuguegarao, the capital of Cagayan where Haima made landfall, reported badly damaged schools and gymnasiums where people had sought shelter.
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, during a state visit. "But we are ready. Everything has been deployed.”
About 10 million people across the northern parts of Luzon were at risk, the government's disaster risk management agency said on Wednesday.
The Philippine islands are often the first major landmass to be hit by storms that are created over the Pacific ocean. The south-east Asian archipelago endures about 20 major storms each year, many of them deadly.