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In the Philippines, bracing for a super-sized typhoon

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Photo: EPA/Francis R Malasig A boy scales a breakwater at a coastal village in Las Pinas city, south of Manila, Philippines, 08 November 2013. Thousands of people fled from coastal communities and areas prone to landslides in the eastern Philippines, as the country prepared for what was expected to be the worst typhoon to hit this year. Photo: EPA/Francis R Malasig

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It’s one of the scariest images I’ve seen online in a while: the massive, ominous vortex that is Super Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda). With sustained winds of up to 195 miles an hour and gusts of up to 235, it’s a front-runner for one of the strongest storms ever.

The storm made landfall in the Phillippines around 5:00 a.m. today. According to Felipe Ramiro, acting country director of Oxfam in the Philippines, “Initial reports from the ground indicate that the provinces of Samar and Leyte in the Visayas region are the hardest hit. Electricity in these areas has been cut off and communication has been difficult. Flights to these provinces and other areas have also been cancelled.

“As of early afternoon today, around 42,000 families or 210,000 individuals have been affected and are staying in 562 evacuation centers in 22 provinces, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

“Oxfam’s assessment teams will be dispatched to assess the situation of these areas. Oxfam is ready to respond to the emergency should the government need it.”

Ramiro added that we hope to know more in the coming hours. “The Oxfam teams will be dispatched starting tomorrow, especially to areas which are at risk from hazards like flooding and storm surges and may not be able to bounce back from disaster quickly because of poverty.”

We will be following the news closely and sharing updates as they become available. For now, if you want to help, you can donate to Oxfam’s Saving Lives 24/7 Fund. The fund ensures that, when disasters like this typhoon strike, Oxfam can launch assessment and relief operations right away—when help is needed the most.

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