Super Typhoon Haiyan hits the Philippines

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Haiyan US Marines
US Marines assisting in the Philippine disaster relief.

Super Typhoon Haiyan, possibly the strongest storm ever recorded to make landfall, has caused massive destruction in the Philippines since it hit last Friday.

Regular typhoons are storm systems that spin in the western region of the Pacific Ocean and produce very strong and heavy rainfall. Typhoons are considered “super” if the winds become faster than 150 miles per hour. It just so happens that Haiyan is one of the biggest super storms ever observed. While its wind speeds average out to about 195 miles per hour – which is as strong as a Category 5 hurricane – gusts have reached up to about as high as 235 mph.

The storm, with its 500-mile-wide clouds, has already cost thousands of people their lives.

The government downplayed initial estimates of 10,000 deaths to somewhere around 2,000-2,500. Meanwhile, cities were reduced to rubble, outlaws took over several areas, and stores were looted for supplies. Security forces struggled to keep order, and an 8pm to 5am curfew was put in place. “We have restored order,” said Carmelo Espina Valmoria, director of the Philippine National Police special action force. “There has been looting for the last three days, (but) the situation has stabilized.”

Flash floods and landslides have presented additional problems, affecting millions of people. Citizens from the central Philippine island of Bohol, who’ve been living in makeshift shelters after experiencing a 7.1 magnitude earthquake just last month, were particularly vulnerable.

United Nations forces, who are trying to get aid to people, have had difficulty due to the chaos. Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said, “There’s a bit of a logjam to be absolutely honest getting stuff in here.”

Featured image courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.