HAGATNA, Guam – A typhoon killed at least five people on a western Pacific Ocean island ahead of strong winds that are expected to bear down on a neighboring island in Micronesia on Wednesday, officials said.
Micronesia public information officer Marz Akapito reported the preliminary death toll in a radio broadcast, according to the Pacific Daily News newspaper in Guam. Akapito said the deaths from Typhoon Maysak occurred in Chuuk state, where damage was widespread and some homes were destroyed.
"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.
Many residents were without water and sought shelter at schools, Perry Killion, a pastor who also works at the National Weather Service office in Chuuk told the Daily News.
Neighboring Yap Island, which is home to about 11,000 people, expected winds of 74 mph or higher early Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. Telephone calls to the island were not connecting.
The typhoon was forecast to hit the Philippines on Sunday or Monday, weather service meteorologist Derek Williams said Tuesday.
"Its official track has it straight toward Luzon," he said. The storm is expected to weaken significantly when it gets to the Philippine Sea but is still expected to cause widespread damage there, such as flooding, Williams said.
Though the storm may weaken when it travels away from Micronesia, it is an imminent threat to low-lying islands in Yap state.
"Our main concern is the atolls northwest of Yap, Fais and Ulithi," Williams said. "The sustained winds are around 150 miles per hour at this point, gusting to 180."
Typhoon warnings were in effect for Ulithi, an atoll about 12 feet above sea level, and Fais, 30 feet above sea level.
"The entire island could be covered in water from storm surge," Williams said.
Hiroyuki Mori, 27, told the Daily News that his home suffered damage, as did those of his neighbors and a nearby hotel in Weno, in Chuuk.
"No one was without damage, and we were prepared," he said. "I was lucky. I have a concrete house, unfortunately I (can) not say the same for many of my fellow Chuukese. Ships have sunk. Homes destroyed. Breadfruits, mangoes, bananas and coconuts, our local source of food ... trimmed down to just stems and branches."
Faylim told the AP that he doesn't know when the government will be able to fully assess the damage, and he described the situation as difficult.
He said the airport reopened after large waves deposited rocks on one of the runways, which employees cleared away.
Located about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, the Federated States of Micronesia consists of 607 islands with a population of about 107,000.