(UPDATE): Super Typhoon Usagi, the year’s most powerful storm, slammed into the northernmost islands of the Philippines on Saturday, triggering landslides, cutting communication and power lines, and inundating rice fields, said a Reuters report.
Media reports also indicate the typhoon claimed at least two lives in the Philippines, and tore coconut trees in half.
Usagi also struck Taiwan on Saturday, unleashing torrential rains and ferocious winds.
With winds of 185 kph (114 mph) at the center and gusts up to 220 kph, Usagi weakened after slamming into the Batanes island group, and is now moving slowly at 19 kph towards southern China, said the weather bureau.
The super typhoon made landfall on Itbayat, the Philippine island closest to Taiwan, where it toppled communication and power lines, uprooted trees, caused landslides, and flooded rice and garlic farms.
“It’s rare that we suffer casualties as a result of typhoons,” said Budget Secretary and former congressman Florencio Abad to Reuters, noting that it has been 25 years since the province has experienced a powerful typhoon.
“A flash flood occurred and trees were uprooted from the mountain and swept by roiling waters to the town. Many houses lost their roofs or were destroyed. Damage to crops is heavy and landslides were reported all around.”
The Philippines averages some 20 typhoons each year. In 2011 Typhoon Washi killed 1,200 people and destroyed over 10,000 homes.
The strongest storm to hit in 2012 was Bopha, which flattened three coastal town on the southern island of Mindanao, killing 1,100 people and causing $1 billion in damage. Image/Reuters