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'Yolanda' now a super typhoon; may be stronger than 'Pablo' that killed 1000

MTSAT ENHANCED-IR Satellite Image of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) as of 10:57 a.m. pagasa.dost.gov.ph

MANILA, Philippines - Approaching tropical cyclone "Yolanda" (international name: Haiyan) is now a super typhoon and could be even stronger than Typhoon "Pablo" that pounded Mindanao last year and killed more than a thousand people, local and international weather agencies said.

According to the latest data of the Hawaii-based US Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), Yolanda has been classified as a super typhoon with present maximum sustained winds of 130 knots or 241 kilometers per hour (kph).

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) does not have a “super typhoon" category, which is used by the JTWC to classify typhoons with maximum sustained winds of 215 kph.

PAGASA's latest advisory issued at 10:30 a.m. said the eye of the typhoon was last located at 1,411 kilometers east of Mindanao with maximum sustained winds of 150 kph and gusts of up to 185 kph.

The typhoon is forecast to move west northwest at 30 kph and is expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Thursday early morning.

Yolanda is expected to make landfall over the Samar-Leyte province by Friday and exit the country by Sunday early morning.

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In an interview on ANC, PAGASA weather forecaster Connie Davidas said Yolanda already has a 600-kilometer diameter and could affect the entire Visayas.

"Masyadong malawak po ito... and within this diameter, pwedeng maapektuhan ang buong Kabisayaan at partly, sa Northern Mindanao," Davidas said.

She noted that Yolanda can still intensify since it is still over the Pacific Ocean and that it could be even stronger than last year's Typhoon Pablo.

"Mas malakas po ang inaasahan natin dito sa Bagyong Yolanda dahil sa ngayon po, 150 kph na po ang maximum winds nito at posible pa pong umabot ito ng 200 kilometers per hour," she said.

Senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said in an article on US-based weather website accuweather.com that Yolanda "remains a serious threat" to the Philippines as its strength will be equal to that of a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic.

The approaching typhoon is also seen to hit the areas that were devastated by the deadly Central Visayas earthquake last month.

"The expected track of Haiyan will take it directly over the areas hardest hit by a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 150 people in the middle of October," the online article said.

Pablo's devastation in Mindanao

In December 2012, Typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha) entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility ravaged several areas in Mindanao.

After making landfall over Baganga, Davao Oriental, Pablo traversed Compostella Valley, Bukidnon and Negros Oriental while triggering floods and landslides.

The typhoon affected over 6.2 million people in 34 provinces and killed at least 1,067 and injured 2,666 others, according to the latest data of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The cost of damage to properties, infrastructure and agriculture incurred from Pablo was estimated at P36.94 billion.

Related stories: Brace for super typhoon Yolanda – Pagasa | Potential strong typhoon may hit central Phl - US weather agency

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