MANILA. – Super Typhoon Soudelor developed into the world’s most powerful storm of the year as it took aim at Japan, Taiwan and China after trashing the Northern Marianas.
The storm roared across the western Pacific Ocean packing wind gusts up to 220 miles per hour (354 kilometres per hour), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre which rated it a maximum category five.
No deaths have been attributed to Soudelor, but it left a trail of destruction across the Northern Marianas.
Acting governor Ralph Torres declared a “state of major disaster and significant emergency” after it struck late on Sunday.
At least 1,500 people were being given emergency food assistance while 500 were living in emergency shelters.
Soudelor ripped roofs off houses and left residents without power, water and wastewater services.
John Hirsh from the American Red Cross in Saipan, the Northern Marianas main island, said the storm caused the worst damage to the Pacific island territory in 30 years.
“There’s no power anywhere on the island … three to four weeks to restore the power. There were probably three or four hundred power poles collapsed during the storm … many roads impassable,” he told Pacific Beat.
Many roads were impassable in the main island Saipan while in the harbour at least three vessels were ripped from their moorings.
In Hagatna, on neighbouring Guam, the weather service warned boats to stay away from exposed reefs and beaches because of “hazardous surf” and “life threatening” rip currents.
It said Soudelor would continue to intensify as it swept across open water for the next 24 hours before starting to weaken. It was expected to be down to category four or three by the time it hit southern Japan, Taiwan and China from late Thursday.
Soudelor was stronger than Cyclone Pam, the previous strongest storm of 2015, which killed at least 15 people when it slammed into Vanuatu five months ago. (ABC Wires)
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