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Philippines braces for Super Typhoon Haima, strongest to hit this year

MANILA — More than 20 Philippine provinces were placed on alert as Typhoon Haima, forecast as a Category 5 storm, is expected to make landfall by Thursday morning (Oct 20).

Philippines braces for Super Typhoon Haima, strongest to hit this year

A fisherman stays next to his boat docked along the shore in Manila bay after Typhoon Sarika slammed central and northern Philippines, Oct 16, 2016. Photo: Reuters

MANILA — The Philippines cancelled flights, shut schools and stockpiled supplies before Super Typhoon Haima reaches land on Thursday morning (Oct 20).

Haima is a Category 5 storm that is packing maximum winds of 145 knots (268.5kph) and gusts of up to 175 knots, according to the latest bulletin from the US Navy and Air Force's Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The storm is expected to reach land in the northern province of Cagayan, the nation's weather bureau said.

Four local flights have been canceled as of 9am Manila time (9am Singapore time), airport authorities said. School classes were suspended in Isabela province, while more than 1.28 billion pesos of food and supplies are on standby, the disaster monitoring agency said on its website. Typhoon alerts have been raised in more than 20 areas, including the capital.

Haima, the second storm to hit the Philippines' main Luzon island in a week, may have a "high humanitarian impact" and could affect as many as 11.6 million people, according to the United Nations Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. Named after a sea horse in China, the Category 5 storm's "powerful winds in combination with the torrential rain will down trees, and may cause widespread power outages that could linger well after the storm has passed," Accuweather said.

The Philippines, battered annually by an average of 20 cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean, is among countries most vulnerable to climate change, according to risk analysis company Verisk Maplecroft. Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in the world to hit land, killed more than 6,000 people in November 2013 and left more than a thousand missing.

Haima will remain a "violent tropical system" as it approaches China and may impact Hong Kong, Accuweather said. The storm is expected to enter the northern part of the South China Sea on Thursday, edging close to the coast of Guangdong on Oct 21, the Hong Kong Observatory said. BLOOMBERG


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