1 Apr 2015

Yap still pounded by winds as atolls start recovery

2:00 pm on 1 April 2015

The state of Yap in the northwest Pacific is still being pounded by Typhoon Maysak, while its command post awaits more news of damage on the small atolls of Fais and Ulithi.

Sateliite image of the Supertyphoon Maysak at 7am NZT Wednesday 1 April

Satellite image of the Supertyphoon Maysak at 7am NZT Wednesday 1 April Photo: www.wunderground.com

The super-typhoon passed directly through the atolls in the Federated States of Micronesia last night, tearing houses from their platforms and damaging close to 100 percent of the infrastructure.

The US National Weather Service at Guam said Ulithi took a direct hit with gusts of 300 kilometres an hour but Yap has escaped the worst winds as the super-typhoon heads north into open seas.

Ulithi and Fais have a combined population of 1000.

The head of the command post at Yap, Raymond Igechep, says they are still experiencing very strong winds and it is too dangerous to go outside.

He says he has not heard of any injury or loss of life, but hopes to send a small plane out to review the damage.

"The weather is still pretty bad, but as soon as it clears up and we have a green signal that the airports are cleaned up, a plane would be able to land, then would be able to go out there and see the damages, and assess it," said Mr Igechep.

Mogmog islanders in the eye of the storm

The command post in Yap lost contact with most of the islets in the Ulithi lagoon overnight, but did speak to Mogmog islanders while they were in the eye of the storm.

Yap's Disaster Co-ordination Officer, Raymond Igechep, said houses were blown away in Fais, and he hopes there was no loss of life.

"They've seen houses blown off their platforms and stuff like that, the storm went very close to them and in fact in Ulithi, they went through the eye. They reported in later during the night that they experienced calmer weather and I advised them not to venture outside because that's the eye of the storm."

Raymond Igechep says Yap is experiencing very strong winds, and is hearing tin fly around outside as dawn breaks on the island.

Winds of up to 250 kilometres per hour are forecast if the super-typhoon directly hits.

Mr Igechep says the damage on Yap is already worse than last year's typhoon Hagupit, but he hopes the super-typhoon continues to turn northerly away from Yap.

"I have a feeling that we won't get up to ...160 [miles per hour] but ... a tin roof flying around outside... so, yeah, from my assistant out here who is by the window, he is figuring out that the damages sustained is a bit more bad than what we went through with Typhoon Hagupit," he said.

Raymond Igechep says he hopes to have news from the atolls of Fais and Ulithi in the next few hours.

Typhoon Maysak's position at 1500 UTC on Tuesday

Typhoon Maysak's position at 1500 UTC on Tuesday Photo: US National Weather Service

Maysak remains Category 5 but expected to weaken

A meteorologist with the United Services National Weather Service in Guam, Ken Kleeschulpe, said he has heard neighbouring Fais sustained a lot of damage from Maysak which remains a Category 5 storm.

"Fais did not get a direct hit but they got some pretty strong winds there as well. They were close. They did have a lot of damage. Their water's contaminated and they've taken a lot of damage," said Mr Kleeschulpe.

Ken Kleeschulpe said Maysak was about 110 kilometres northeast of Yap, which was unlikely to take a direct hit, although it should be prepared for typhoon conditions.

He said the storm was expected to maintain its intensity for a couple of days but should start to weaken before it got to the Philippines.

Another forecaster, Mike Ziobro, said the main Yap islands would feel some effects of the storm which was passing to the north.

"Probably a bit further north than Yap, although they could get some strong winds there ... especially in their coastal waters, maybe some typhoon force winds. But Fais is the one that's going to get very close to them."

Typhoon Maysak

Typhoon Maysak. Photo: www.wunderground.com

Churches and schools provided shelter

A disaster official in the Federated States of Micronesia state of Yap earlier said people in the path of the super typhoon Maysak had spent the night sheltering from the storm.

Raymond Igechep said people on Fais and Ulithi sought shelter in concrete buildings such as churches and schools.

"We're expecting a full, hard impact on the islands by nightfall. As far as information relayed to us, people are mobilising to the community designated typhoon shelters. So I hope they are all OK when the typhoon hits."

Raymond Igechep said there were reports of significant damage to the environment in the eastern islands of Yap state, but there had been no reports of deaths.

The governor of the state of Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, has requested a state of disaster emergency be declared for the state after it was damaged by Maysak on Sunday.

Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia

Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia Photo: Supplied

In a letter to the FSM President, Manny Mori, Governor Johnson Elimo said there was extensive damage to infrastructure, houses, crops and commercial buildings, including on the main island, Weno.

Five people are also believed to have died in Chuuk.