Bay Area keeps watch on deadly typhoon hitting Philippines

MANILA, Philippines

It could be the most powerful storm to ever hit land. The typhoon is slamming into the Philippines, setting off landslides, floods, and knocking out power to large portions of the country. Millions of people are in the path of the storm. It is 300 miles wide, which is roughly the distance from Boston to Philadelphia.

This storm is massive; larger than Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Andrew. So far there have been at least casualties, but authorities are expecting more.

More than 125,000 people had been evacuated from towns and villages in the typhoon's path, which was to cut across the central Philippines, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said. Among them were thousands of residents of Bohol who had been camped in tents and other makeshift shelters after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the island last month.

Some of the first pictures of the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan after it struck the Philippines are emerging.

Weather experts say it's one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded, with maximum winds of up to 195 miles per hour.

The Bay Area has the second largest Filipino-American community in the nation, after Los Angeles. People here have been tracking the typhoon.

"My brother and sister are still there," Daly City resident Rudy Contillo said. "So, their house is not that strong enough to handle the super typhoon."

Video shows it after the typhoon passed over Tacloban City Thursday afternoon. By nightfall, Haiyan was bearing down on Cebu City, where city employee Ricky Ballesteros spoke to us by phone.

"The trees are moving in different directions," he said.

Ballesteros says thousands are sheltered in schools, malls, and the city's sports arena. Forecasters say the storm surge could reach 23 feet along the coast.

"This is the strongest so far that we have experienced and it's very scary," Ballesteros said.

Back in Daly City, Henni Espinosa had been talking to her parents via Skype.

"I've been trying to contact them for hours now and it's been really hard," she said.

Her parents emailed video of her mother at an evacuation center in Bacolad City just before the storm hit.

"The government has been ready for it, preparing for it with shelter and food distribution," Daly City resident Alicia Rudd said.

ABS-CBN Foundation International is based in the Philippines, with offices in Redwood City. The non-profit is already accepting monetary donations to buy emergency goods.

"We work directly with the government, specifically the military, like the Navy and Marines," said Joann Kyle with the ABS-CBN Foundation. "And they provide us with boats for us to be able to go there."

Local organizations like "Project Pearls" helped collect goods for victims, shipping them to where they were needed the most. Once again, the organization will have a drive for families affected by this latest typhoon.

Authorities are expecting catastrophic damage and more casualties. But the storm is moving fast, which could limit the flooding and reduce the number of deaths.

The typhoon - the 24th serious storm to hit the Philippines this year - is forecast to barrel through the Philippines' central region Friday and Saturday before blowing toward the South China Sea over the weekend, heading toward Vietnam.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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