(Photo:Japan Meteorological Agency/Reuters)
The Pacific super typhoon storm known as Haiyan continues to sweep through the Philippines as of Friday morning with wind gusts measuring over 200 miles per hour that have claimed the lives of at least four people. Christians across the island nation raised up prayer amid what is considered to be the strongest storm ever recorded.
Haiyan made landfall south of Manila, around 4:40 a.m. local time on Friday while most people slept. So far, the affected areas are Guiuan, Eastern Samar, Dulag-Tolosa, Daanbantayan and Bantayan Island. Currently, over 12 million people are at risk from the storm, including the country's second largest city, Cebu.
King Reginaldo, an employee with the Integrated Coastal Resources Management (ICRM), has been monitoring the storm from an unaffected province in the Philippines and took to Facebook to post updates on the super storm while encouraging his followers through prayer.
"Please forgive all our sins and shortcomings. We know You are a loving God. Your children here on earth, especially in the Philippines, are crying out loud to You, Lord," he wrote. "Spare us from this powerful storm. Send Your holy angels and protect us O God, or instead command them to wipe this super typhoon off the map."
In another post, he wrote "You control the universe and everything in it. Please wipe this one out, O God. We ask this in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen."
As the storm gained momentum, Reginaldo posted an update saying that he was going to refrain from publishing additional forecast models because he did not want to "add stress to the public."
According to the Weather Channel, the governor from Leyte province, Gov. Roger Mercado, said the typhoon slammed across his residential area with heavy rains that uprooted trees, tore roofs off of houses and caused road-blocking landslides.
"When you're faced with such a scenario, you can only pray, and pray and pray," he said.
Between late Thursday and Friday morning, over 700,000 residents in coastal communities were evacuated as President Benigno Aquino urged the country to make preparations for the storm while warning residents that they could face "calamity." Among those evacuees were residents who endured a 7.1 magnitude earthquake last month that left over 200 dead. Aquino also called for the preparation of aid relief with several air force cargo planes, military helicopters and 20 navy ships on standby.
Due to cut-off communication throughout several hard-hit areas, the extent of casualties and damage remains unknown. However, officials report that two people were electrocuted in storm-related accidents, one person was killed by a fallen tree and another was struck by lightning.
Filipino residents are now being warned to prepare for possible massive flash floods and additional landslides.
By 11 p.m. local time on Friday, forecasters reported that Haiyan's winds had weakened to 120 mph and the storm was expected to move away from the country into the South China Sea toward Vietnam by Saturday.