Cambodia to Keep a Close Eye on Severe Typhoon Haiyan

Authorities said Thursday they were closely watching the development of the world’s big­gest storm to materialize so far this year as it hits the Philippines today before moving west toward Vietnam and Cambodia in the following days.

“Our first step is to keep a close eye on [the typhoon]. The storm will hit Vietnam on [the] 10th [Sunday] and we will give an update then when there is more information and we can see how many provinces will be affected in our country,” and how powerful the storm is by then, Oum Ryna, deputy director of the Ministry of Water Resources’ meteorology department, said Thursday.

Typhoon Haiyan is being described as the strongest storm of the year and news reports Thursday said that the weather system was growing in power as it approached the coast of the Philippines. At one point winds blew at 335 kph, the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale that is described as causing “catastrophic damage.”

The official Philippines news agency reported that about 2,500 people had been evacuated as of Thursday, and coast guards and the disaster management unit were prepared for the aftermath of torrential rains, destructive winds and flash floods.

Chan Youttha, spokesman for the Ministry of Water Resources in Cambodia, said that although it was impossible to predict the exact impacts of such powerful storms, the government expected Haiyan to weaken before reaching Cambodia.

“The storm has developed into a super typhoon in the Philippines and we expect that the storm would not be as strong anymore when it reaches Vietnam. Usually, when storms hit the Philippines, they cross the South China Sea. After [that] their power becomes weaker and then they reach Vietnam,” Mr. Youttha said.

By Saturday, he said, the Ministry would be able to provide a clearer prediction of how the storm could affect Cambodia.

“We can give a better estimate after the storm has crossed the Philippines and is in the South China Sea when we can see how the power has developed,” Mr. Youttha said.

The worst storm to ever hit Cambodia was Ketsana in 2009, which left 43 dead and destroyed 1,022 houses.

Storms on Wednesday night caused flooding in Phnom Penh, and damaged 36 wooden homes in Kandal province and a further 64 homes in Kompong Chhnang province, provincial officials said.

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