Meteorologists warned Tuesday that a storm that ripped through Micronesia was building into a supertyphoon as it swept across the central Pacific towards the Yap group of islands.
The island of Chuuk, part of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), received a direct hit late on Sunday from Typhoon Maysak and the Yap group was next in its path.
“A lot of houses and roofs were blown away, and trees and telephone poles on the main road were blown down,” Kane Faylim, airport manager for Chuuk state government, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The National Weather Service in Guam said residents on Yap Island could experience winds of 74 mph or higher from Typhoon Maysak early Wednesday morning. Telephone calls to the island were not connecting.
Widespread damage was reported in Chuuk, which suffered damage Monday.
The Pacific News Center in Guam said FSM public information officer Marz Akapito “is reporting that five people have died in Chuuk state due to typhoon Maysak”.
The consul-general for FSM based in Guam, Robert Ruecho, told Agence France-Presse he had heard various casualty counts of one and later five, but “cannot confirm anything right now”.
Neville Koop, a meteorologist with Fiji’s Na Draki weather service, said at its peak it would have winds of 270 kilometres per hour (168 miles per hour) with gusts up to 340kph.
“This typhoon will be very destructive,” Koop told AFP. “At its peak Typhoon Maysak will be as strong as Cyclone Pam.”
National Weather Service meteorologist Derek Williams said Tuesday afternoon that Maysak is expected to hit the Philippines on Sunday or Monday.
“Its official track has it straight toward Luzon,” he said. Williams said the storm is expected to weaken significantly when it gets to the Philippine Sea, but the storm is still expected to cause widespread damage there such as flooding.
The Philippine state weather forecaster said it was too early to say if the latest typhoon would affect the country, but it would reassess the situation when the storm entered its area of responsibility on Wednesday or Thursday.
The Philippines is still recovering from Super Typhoon Haiyan which struck in November 2013, leaving more than 7,350 people dead or missing.
It will be called “Chedeng” once it enters the Philippine area of responsibility.