Super Typhoon Haima makes landfall in Philippines, thousands evacuated

Haima could be as destructive as the catastrophic super typhoon Haiyan that killed more than 7,350 people in 2013.

Super Typhoon Haima causes landfall in northern Philippines; thousands of people evacuated
Evacuees from the coastal villages take shelter inside an evacuation center as Typhoon Haima locally name Lawin approaches, in Alcala town, Cagayan province, north of Manila Reuters

Super typhoon Haima, the strongest cyclone to hit the Philippines in three years, made landfall late on Wednesday in northern Philippines displacing thousands of people, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Reports say Haima struck the Cagayan province on the northeastern end of the archipelago around 11 p.m. local time. Authorities marked it as a category 5 storm as it blew with destructive 225 kmh winds.

The typhoon is expected to affect almost 2.7 million people in seven provinces before it deviates northwest towards the Chinese coast by Friday.

Tens of thousands have already been evacuated in the Philippines. Schools and government offices were closed in many parts of the main Luzon island. Several flights and trains were cancelled due to one of the country's worst-ever storms.

Haima, which is locally known as Lawin, toppled power and communication lines and damaged many houses in the northern part of the country.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council authorities said they have received several reports of infrastructure damage particularly in Cagayan province.

"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," Mina Marasigan, spokeswoman at the agency told Reuters.

"Power lines have been cut off and mobile phone signals were intermittent," she added.

Isabela Governor Faustino Dy III urged people in his province to avoid going outdoors.

"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.

Experts say Haima could prove as destructive as the catastrophic super typhoon Haiyan that had claimed more than 7,350 lives in 2013.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who is currently in China for an official trip, said emergency services had been deployed.

"We only pray we be spared the destruction such as the previous times, which brought agony and suffering," he told BBC.

Haima is the 12th typhoon to hit the Philippines this year and the second one in a week, after typhoon Sarika struck on Sunday. One person was killed due to Sarika while three people are still missing. Authorities say every year, an average of 20 typhoons hit the Southeast Asian nation.