Typhoon Mawar Hit Phillippines: Government Evacuated Thousands
- Source BBC
VIVA – Government of Philippines started to evacuate thousands people, closing schools also offices on Monday, as Typhoon Mawar hit the country's northern provinces, a week after hitting the United States territory of Guam.
The typhoon carries maximum sustained winds of 155 kph (96 mph) to 190 kph (118 mph), but is expected to spare the northern mountainous region from a direct hit.
Authorities warn of dangerous tidal waves, flash floods and landslides as it blows past Cagayan and Batanes provinces from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Strong winds were also known to hit the eastern villages of Cagayan on Monday, and caused an old uninhabited warehouse on a pier to collapse. This prompted more villagers to move to evacuation centers.
"Nearly 5,000 people sought shelter in Cagayan, Batanes, and other provinces," said Assistant Secretary Raffy Alejandro of the Office of Civil Defense.
He said the number is expected to increase given the ongoing precautionary evacuations in flood- and landslide-prone areas. Classes and office work, except those involved in disaster preparedness, have been suspended.
Flights to and from the province have been canceled and fishing and passenger vessels are prohibited from sailing.
"Although the sun is up, the weather is currently very unpredictable and can change at any time, so we must always be on the side of safety," Alejandro said.
"We are talking here about a potential threat to life." he added.
Typhoon Mawar hit Guam last week as the strongest typhoon to hit the US Pacific region in more than two decades. The storm overturned cars, ripped off roofs and knocked out power.
"Typhoons, earthquakes and these natural disasters have become part of our lives," said Batanes Vice Governor Ignacio Villa.
"We can't afford not to be prepared because it has the potential to cause loss of life and major damage."
Army troops, police, firefighters, and volunteer groups are gearing up for search and rescue operations as more than a million food packages have been prepared for any eventuality.
While the typhoon threatened most of the Philippines' northern provinces, government forecasters said it could intensify monsoon rains in other areas further south, including the capital, Manila, and in the central Philippines.
About 20 typhoons and storms each year hit the Philippine archipelago, which also lies on a seismic fault where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
This makes the Southeast Asian country one of the most disaster-prone in the world.