11/08/2013, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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The super-typhoon Haiyan hits the Philippines, millions on maximum alert

Three victims so far, but the toll is expected to rise. Before touching ground Yolanda, this is how it has been renamed in the country, registered wind gusts up to 380 km / h. Satellite images show it to be the "most powerful ever". Flood risks due to heavy rains that have fallen in matter of a few hours.

Manila ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - The super-typhoon Haiyan has reached the heart of the Philippines, with winds exceeding 235 km / h and gusts that have peaked to nearly 300 km / h , causing three victims so far, but the number is expected to increase in the next few hours . According to meteorologists , if the first images sent to the satellites are confirmed, it could be " the most powerful of all time " to have touched the mainland. Millions of people affected by the passage of the typhoon, dubbed Yolanda in the country, have sought refuge in shelters or safer places scattered in 30 provinces in a state of maximum alert . The area is still struggling to recover from the serious devastation caused by the 7.3 magnitude earthquake in October last with hundreds killed and wounded , as well as thousands of displaced people .

Authorities warn that more than 12 million people are at risk, along a front of more than 600 km in the central eastern coast of the Philippines. Yolanda is the 25th typhoon to strike the country in 2013 and , according to experts , could be even more devastating than Botha , which hit the south of the country in 2012 , causing at least a thousand deaths and over a billion dollars in damages .

The government in Manila - the capital should be spared from the typhoon - has set itself the goal of "zero casualties" ; thousands of people have been evacuated from the coast,  all seas vessels have been recalled to port, maritime transport suspended and schools and offices closed . However, at present it is difficult to understand if the goal of the executive led by President Benigno Aquino will be successfully reached, or just contain the number of deaths .

Telephone connections are disrupted in many areas and it is not possible to ascertain what the real conditions of the areas where Yolanda has already passed are.  They typhoon has touched down five times since ( in very early morning today ) it reached the Philippines . So far, no information has been collected and impromptu messages sent online by members of civil protection or rescue teams confirm the "devastating" proportions of Haiyan .

Experts from the U.S. typhoon alert Centers have reported that, according to their calculations, before reaching the mainland the typhoon registered wind gusts which reached to 379 km per hour. From the island of Leyte and Samar waves of up to 5 meters were visible. In the 600 km diameter formed by Yolanda between 10 and 20 millimeters of rain have fallen per hour , increasing the danger of flooding and landslides.

In August, two people died and thousands were left homeless in the north of the Philippines in the passage of the typhoon Utor , which hit the north of the country . Church and Catholic organizations immediately set to work to bring relief to the people , in a nation hit by at least 20 typhoons each year ( Utor was the 13th ) . Moreover typhoons , tropical storms , hurricanes are very frequent during the summer season in many parts of east and south- east Asia, where the warm, moist air, combined with the low pressure creates the ideal conditions for the formation of these atmospheric phenomena. In 2001 , the passage of Typhoon Washi in the Philippines caused 1,200 deaths and 300,000 displaced , and destroyed over 10,000 homes.

 

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