Super Typhoon Haiyan, The Strongest Storm Of The Year, Moves Towards Central Philippines
By Manuel Campos
Thousands of villagers fled as the most powerful storm on the planet this year approached the Philippines on Thursday.
The western Pacific storm Haiyan has intensified without interruption since Sunday and is now a dangerous Category 5 super typhoon, with maximum sustained winds exceeding 160 mph. It is on a path due west, and landfall Friday in the central Philippines is inevitable.
Haiyan - known as Yolanda in the Philippines - is likely the strongest storm to form on the planet this year.
Haiyan will become the fifth storm to directly affect the Philippines this year.
Haiyan will pass very close to Cebu Island, which was near the epicenter of the 7.2 magnitude quake that shook the region in mid-October. Between 8-16 inches of rain are expected to fall there and could hamper recovery efforts.
Authorities in the region had moved more than 2,500 people to evacuation centers by early Thursday, the official Philippines News Agency reported, citing local police.
Most of those relocated live in Tacloban City, which sits on the coast of the island of Leyte and has a population of more than 200,000.
Haiyan is already being compared to Super Typhoon Mike which followed a similar track and intensity when it killed 748 people in 1990. It caused $220 million dollars of damage.
Haiyan should be clear of the Philippines by around 18GMT on Friday. Thereafter it will head across the South China Sea towards central Vietnam. Here it is also expected to cause widespread disruption with sustained winds of 165kph and more torrential rain.