The recent update on the devastation brought by Super Typhoon Haiyan to southern Philippines has raised the death toll to 5,235 with 23,501 injured and 1,613 reported missing.
The natural disaster is of major catastrophic proportion and hit more than 60 provinces in the Philippines. The deadly typhoon caused a storm surge which had a tsunami-like effect when the coastal area was smashed by a wall of Pacific Ocean water.
According to reports, the storm surge was so powerful that it had lifted ships and dropped them in to the coastal lands. People could have been sucked back out to the sea during the storm surge. The entire city of Tacloban with more than 200,000 people was totally destroyed. The powerful storm has also flattened the entire forests of palm trees on hilltops.
What is a storm surge?
The rise on the sea levels that is higher than the normal tide levels and is due to a typhoon’s powerful onshore winds. The waves caused by the storm surge can be devastating due to the impact and height which can be compared to a “giant bulldozer sweeping everything on its path”. Freshwater flooding due to storm surge can bring destruction and deaths to the coastal areas. Weather scientists believed that one of the effects of global warming is the extreme storm surges.
Some of the deadliest and greatest storm surge
- Bhola Cyclone of 1970 (Bangladesh) (500,000 deaths)
- Galveston Hurricane of 1900 Texas, USA (6,000-12,000 deaths)
- North Sea flood of 1953 UK and Netherlands (2,000 deaths)
- Hurricane Katrina of 2005 USA (25 – 40 feet)
- Hurricane Sandy of 2012 USA (14 – 35 feet)
Interesting Facts about Philippines
- An archipelago consisting of 7,107 islands with three geographical divisions namely: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
- Population is more than 98 million people; 7th most populated in Asia and 12th in the world.
- Lies near the equator and sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire making it prone to typhoons and earthquakes.
- Considered as one of the most disaster-hit countries in the world, ranking fifth along with China, United States, India and Indonesia. (source: CRED)
- Country lies on the western Pacific Ocean which is a vast of expanse of warm water and the most active area for tropical cyclones.
- The mountainous areas have higher risk of landslides while places in low-lying areas get easily flooded.
- Country has strong annual economic growth but one of the poorest in GDP per capita (source: CIA World Factbook)
- Biggest natural disaster was experienced in December 2012 when Typhoon Bopha hit the country affecting 6 million people with almost 2,000 reported deaths. (source: CRED)