Byline: Richard Shears
IT WAS the most powerful storm to ever land.
A monster typhoon, with winds reaching 235mph, tossed houses into the sea and sent millions scurrying for shelter in the Philippines yesterday.
The poverty-stricken country has already endured almost a year of earthquakes and floods with no fewer than 24 disastrous weather events.
The category-5 super typhoon Haiyan - Chinese for 'sea bird' - smashed into the eastern islands of the Philippines with winds nearly 150mph stronger than the St Jude storm which struck the UK in late October.
Roofs were ripped from houses, ferocious 20ft waves washed away coastal villages, power lines came down and trees were uprooted.
Roger Mercado, governor of Southern Leyte, an island off the coast off the popular tourist region of Cebu, said the dense clouds and heavy rains turned day into night.
'When you're faced with such a scenario, you can only pray and pray and pray,' he said, as weather forecasters warned of 'catastrophic' damage.
The governor added: 'My worst fear is that there will be many massive loss of lives and property.' Initial reports said four people had been killed, including a villager who was electrocuted and a man who was struck by lightning.
Authorities warned that 12 million people were at risk. More than 125,000 people were evacuated from towns and villages that lay directly in the typhoon's path, but hundreds of thousands more were told to prepare for disaster that was likely to hit them.
The storm brought further misery to thousands of residents of Bohol who had been camped in tents and other makeshift shelters after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the island last month.
Patrick Fuller, spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, feared the death toll could rise dramatically once reports arrived from areas where communications had been cut. …