Super Typhoon Haima slams northern Philippines
A resident tries to salvage his destroyed roof blown away at the height of typhoon Haima in Karanglan town, Nueva Ecija province, north of Manila on October 20, 2016. Photograph: (AFP)
Super Typhoon Haima, the strongest cyclone to hit the Philippines in three years, wreaked havoc in the northern province of Cagayan late on Wednesday as it toppled power and communication lines, damaged houses and displaced thousands, international news agency Reuters reported.
However, there were no immediate reports of death.
The category 5 storm prompted the shutdown of schools and government offices in many parts of the main Luzon island and several flights were canceled.
Haima weakened over land on Thursday, prompting the weather bureau to lift storm warning signals in some areas
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council received several reports of infrastructure damage particularly in Cagayan but so far there were no confirmed reports of any casualties, Mina Marasigan, spokeswoman at the agency was quoted as saying by Reuters.
"We have received several reports of roofs that were ripped off because of strong winds. Even the operations center of the Office of Civil Defense in (Cagayan) was not spared," she said.
"Power lines have been cut off and mobile phone signals were intermittent."
"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, told AFP by telephone.
"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."
Jefferson Soriano, mayor of Tuguegarao, the capital of Cagayan where Haima made landfall, reported badly damaged schools and gymnasiums where people had sought shelter, AFP reported.
"They are calling for help because the roofs have been torn off. The problem is, our rescuers here are unable to go out and help," Soriano told DZMM radio before dawn while the storm was still raging.
Isabela governor Faustino Dy III advised people in his province to stay indoors, including those displaced families in evacuation centers.
"The rivers are still swelling. They must wait for local officials to announce if it is safe to go out," he said in a radio interview, according to Reuters.
An average of 20 typhoons hit the Southeast Asian nation every year and Haima is the 12th typhoon to hit the archipelago this year,
We are ready: Duterte
The government's disaster risk management council said on Wednesday that about 10 million people across the northern parts of Luzon were at risk.
President Rodrigo Duterte said that 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. "But we are ready. Everything has been deployed."
Meanwhile, Haima weakened over land on Thursday, prompting the weather bureau to lift storm warning signals in some areas, according to Reuters. It was expected to exit the landmass via Ilocos Norte province between 0000-0200 GMT and moved out of the country by Thursday evening.
An average of 20 typhoons hit the Southeast Asian nation every year and Haima is the 12th typhoon to hit the archipelago this year, according to Reuters.
Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines in 2013, killing at least 6,000 people.
(WION with inputs from AFP, Reuters)