Typhoon Sarika: Tropical storm could be the 'most damaging' to hit the Philippines this year

The storm will continue on to Vietnam, which has already seen major flooding 

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The Independent Online

A powerful typhoon is bearing down on the Philippines and could be the “most damaging” storm to hit the country this year. 

Typhoon Sarika, which has already caused several deaths, is gaining strength and expected to make landfall in the early hours of Sunday morning UK time. 

With winds of up to 115mph, Sarika is expected hit the country as a category 3 storm, bringing huge amounts of rain, which could cause landslides and flooding, and storm surges of up to two metres above normal levels.

"We can see from the radar that the storm is very destructive,” government forecaster Benison Estareja told AFP news agency. “It can destroy wooden houses, it can topple trees. It can possibly rip off roofs. This could so far be the most damaging typhoon this year."

The storm, known locally as Karen, is predicted to hit the eastern side of Luzon, the Philippines largest and most populated island, and travel across its centre, also affecting parts of Manila, Mr Estareja added.

It is not expected to pass through the central Philippines islands, where Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people in 2013.

Heavy rains have already been battering the capital and other areas and public storm warnings have been issued in provinces across Luzon.

After passing through the Philippines, Sarika is expected to pick up the pace as it travels west across the warm waters of the South China Sea towards Vietnam. 

Vietnam has already been dealing with flooding in its four central provinces, which have killed at least 11 people and displaced thousands. 

Flooding from heavy rainfall brought by a tropical low pressure system since Wednesday has cut food supplies to thousands of people and blocked north-south traffic, the government said in a statement on Saturday.

Seven people drowned or were electrocuted in Quang Binh province, four others were killed in three nearby provinces, and at least 30,000 homes were submerged, state-run Vietnam Television (VTV) said, citing government reports.

"It is our priority now to save people's lives," Chairman Nguyen Huu Hoai, of the provincial People's Committee in Quang Binh, said on a VTV bulletin.

Dozens of foreign tourists were among passengers stranded on 22 trains in the affected region, prompting provincial authorities to provide food and water, while many flights to the region were cancelled, VTV said.

Tropical storm Sarika could bring more rain to the affected areas, analysts said.