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According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, at least 125,300 people have been evacuated from towns and villages in the Samar-Leyte regions.
President Benigno S. Aquino III asked his country to prepare for the worst, calling the storm a calamity, as local media reported power outages in entire provinces, downed communications and uprooted trees, and blocked roads making relief efforts nearly impossible.
Aquino said that 25 million Filipinos were at risk. At press time, three people had been reported killed in Cebu and Samar provinces. Officials said the death toll is likely to rise.
More than a million people in 20 provinces had already been given emergency shelter.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), hundreds of domestic and international flights have been canceled.
Super Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, is expected to maintain its intensity as it heads toward the South China Sea on Saturday and Sunday, threatening Cambodia and Vietnam.
The Philippines is located along a ‘Typhoon Belt’ between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, and is hit by 20 to 30 such storms a year.
In August, Typhoon Utor (also known as Labuyo) hit the northern Philippines, killing at least 13 and displacing nearly 100,000 people due to heavy rains and flooding.