UPDATE: 'Yolanda' pounds Visayas region, 3 dead

(UPDATED 5:40 p.m.) Super Typhoon Yolanda, the strongest cyclone to hit the planet in 2013, is expected to exit the Philippine landmass at 10 p.m. tonight after pounding its way across Central Philippines.

Yolanda is forecast to cross Calamian Group of Islands between 8-9 p.m. Friday and exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility via the West Philippine Sea around 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The super typhoon earlier made five landfalls: the 1st over Guiuan, Eastern Samar around 4:40 a.m., its second landfall over Dulag and Tolosa in Leyte past 7:00 a.m., its third over Daanbantayan, Cebu at around 9:40 a.m., its fourth over Bantayan, Cebu at 10:40 a.m., and its 5th over Concepcion, Iloilo Friday noon.

Weather Bureau PAGASA said Yolanda is still moving west northwest at a very fast speed of 40 kilometers per hour bearing very strong winds of up to 215 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 250 kilometers per hour.

Yolanda will continue "island hopping" in the next few hours over Panay Island, Semirara Island, and Palawan. With its current movement, it is forecast to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) early Saturday morning.

In its wake, Yolanda has already left 3 people dead in Masbate, Zamboanga and Surigao del Sur, 7 injured and 145,641 families affected in 581 evacuation centers, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC).

The two fatalities from Masbate and Surigao del Sur were electrocuted after toppled electric posts fell on them, while one died in Zamboanga after he was struck by lightning, NDRRMC reported.

In a Palace briefing, Communications Sec. Sonny Coloma said the number of fatalities may continue to go up as the super typhoon continue to batter the country. The government, however, is focused on rescue and relief operations, he added.

"Kasalukuyang naka-full red alert ang iba't ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan sa pangunguna ng NDRRMC...nakahandang ipamamahagi ng [Department of Social Welfare and Development] ang relief goods para sa mamamayan sa mga apektadong lalawigan," Coloma said.

The Social Welfare department has earmarked more than P53 million for relief operations.

According to PAGASA, Yolanda is not just the strongest storm in the Philippine history but it is also tagged as the most powerful cyclone in the world for 2013. It is placed under category 5, labeling it as a super typhoon.

Public Storm Warning Signal no. 4 is now raised over these areas:
LUZON:
Extreme Northern Palawan
Calamian Group of Islands
Southern Occidental Mindoro
Southern Oriental Mindoro

VISAYAS:
Aklan
Capiz
Antique
Iloilo
Guimaras

  
The following provinces were also placed under Storm Signals 3, 2, and 1 respectively.

SIGNAL NO. 3
LUZON
Rest of Occidental Mindoro
Rest of Oriental Mindoro
Romblon
Rest of Northern Palawan including Puerto Princesa City


SIGNAL NO. 2
LUZON:
Lubang Island
Batangas
Marinduque
Rest of Palawan
Burias Island
Masbate
Ticao Island

VISAYAS:
Negros Provinces
Cebu
Biliran Island


SIGNAL NO 1
LUZON:
Metro Manila
Bataan
Cavite
Rizal
Laguna
Quezon
Camarines Provinces
Albay
Sorsogon

VISAYAS:
Samar Provinces
Leyte Provinces
Camotes Island
Bohol
Siquijor

MINDANAO:
Camiguin
Surigao del Norte
Dinagat Province

According to the airport authorities, 453 flights have been cancelled due to Yolanda.

Nearly 3000 passengers are stranded in various ports around the country.

While Metro Manila is experiencing light to moderate rains in the morning, PAGASA said it will get worse in the afternoon or early evening.

Authorities had earlier warned of flashfloods and landslides in the areas that will be hit by Yolanda.

In Southern Leyte, one of the provinces currently being battered by the super typhoon, Governor Roger Mercado of Southern Leyte warned against the wrath of Yolanda.

“We would like to advise all provinces and cities along the path of typhoon Yolanda not to take this typhoon lightly. They have to prepare now, evacuate and make moves. Maghanda na kayo dyan kasi dito talaga sa amin talagang malakas na malakas. Do not under estimate this. Please prepare now,” Mercado said in a phone interview with ANC’s Headstart.

Mercado said, at least 7,771 families or more than 31,000 individuals have already been evacuated.

He added, Southern Leyte is currently experiencing power outage and roads remain impassable due to fallen trees and electric posts.

In Romblon, where Yolanda is expected to pass through in the next few hours, the super typhoon has already made its presence felt. Romblon Governor Eduardo Firmlalo said around 7,000 residents have already been transferred to several evacuation sites as part of their preparations.

Strong winds and rains are now lashing Marinduque especially municipalities in the southern part of the province. Provincial administrator Bong Raza said almost 3,000 people have already been evacuated.

A total blackout struck as early as 6:00 p.m. Thursday in Santa Cruz, Torrijos, Buenavista, and Gasan and 10:00 p.m. in the capital towns Mogpog and Boac.

Watch this report by ABS-CBN's Atom Araullo as Yolanda slammed into Tacloban City this morning:


READ MORE: Super typhoon Yolanda packing 300 kph winds: US military

Visit ABS-CBN's Weather Center for updates.

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