Super Typhoon Megi crashed into the Philippines on Monday, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. Thousands of residents fled to safety as pounding rains and ferocious winds caused flooding, collapsed trees and cut off power. It was the strongest storm to hit the island nation in four years.
At least seven people died in the storm, and at least six others were injured by falling trees, buckled rooftops and shattered glass, officials said. More than 4,150 residents were forced to take shelter in schools, town halls, churches and relatives' homes.
Riding Out the Storm
A typhoon is a tropical cyclone, or hurricane, that occurs in the western Pacific or Indian Oceans. The storm is named a "super typhoon" when winds exceed 150 m.p.h. Megi crashed ashore in the Isabela province of the northern Philippines with whipping winds that reached 162 m.p.h. The storm created massive waves in Palanan Bay. All ships and fishing boats were advised to stay in ports. Several airline flights were canceled.
Luckily, the winds blew high from the ground, sparing many rice fields from damage, says Alvaro Antonio, the governor of Cagayan province. The region also took a hard hit from the storm.
Thousands of military reserve officers and volunteers stood by to help with relief efforts. Evacuations and emergency preparations for the storm were made days in advance. Retired army Major General Benito Ramos heads the Philippines' disaster-preparedness agency. He said readying for the typhoon was like "preparing for war."
More Misery Ahead
Forecasters say the cyclone is headed north toward China and Vietnam next. Megi's powerful winds lost some speed while crossing the mountains of the Philippine island of Luzon. But the storm is predicted to regain its strength later on Monday when it passes through the South China Sea.
Vietnam is still recovering from earlier flooding this month that left more than 80 people dead or missing. Previous flooding had already destroyed tens of thousands of homes. Nearly three feet of rain washed over the region in just a few days. Now the country is bracing for Megi. "People are exhausted," said Vietnamese disaster official Nguyen Ngoc Giai.
In preparation for the typhoon, officials in China have evacuated 140,000 people from the southern island province of Hainan, where heavy rains over the weekend flooded thousands of homes, China's official news agency reported. Deadly flooding has also been reported in Thailand.