Typhoon Mawar on course for US territory Guam as residents head for shelter

typhoon mawar on course for us territory guam as residents head for shelter

Tropical storm force winds hit Guam as Typhoon Mawar headed towards the Western Pacific island on Wednesday. AFP

A huge storm passed over the US territory of Guam, in the Western Pacific, bringing destructive winds and forcing residents to stock up with supplies and head for emergency shelters.

Typhoon Mawar became the strongest storm to approach the territory in decades as rains and winds reached the island on Wednesday.

“What we are feeling right now is the eye going over the Rota Channel,” Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said in a Facebook video, referring to the body of water between the islands of Guam and Rota.

The typhoon was forecast to arrive as a Category 4 storm but could strengthen to a Category 5. The last Category 5 to make a direct hit on Guam was Super Typhoon Karen in 1962.

The US military withdrew its ships as President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration and anyone not living in a concrete house was urged to seek safety elsewhere ahead of the typhoon, AP reported.

By Wednesday afternoon, many communities on the 549-square-kilometre island had lost power and some to the south had lost water.

Ms Leon Guerrero said the emergency declaration would support the mobilisation of resources into Guam, which is “especially crucial given our distance from the continental US”.

She ordered residents of coastal, low-lying and flood-prone areas of the territory of more than 150,000 people to move to higher elevations.

She said help from the US would be needed to save lives and property and “mitigate the effects of this imminent catastrophe” in a letter to Mr Biden requesting a “pre-landfall emergency” for Guam.

Officials warned residents who are in homes made of wood and tin rather than concrete to relocate.

Guam is a crucial base for US forces in the Pacific. The US Department of Defence controls about a third of the island.

Rear Admiral Benjamin Nicholson, Joint Region Marianas commander, authorised the evacuation of defence personnel, dependents and employees in areas expected to be affected.

All ships were moved out to sea as a standard precaution, said the US Navy, and any personnel still on the island were sheltering.

About 6,800 US service members are assigned to Guam, according to the Pentagon.

With rain from the storm’s outer bands already reaching the island late on Wednesday morning, the typhoon had maximum sustained winds of 225kph, with gusts peaking at 274kph, said Landon Aydlett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Guam.

Its centre was about 120km south-east of the island on Wednesday and was moving to the north-northwest.

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