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Thursday, December 18, 1997 Published at 07:25 GMT



World

Record typhoon winds ravage Guam

Typhoon Paka has ripped through the Pacific Island of Guam with winds gusting to a world record of 236 miles per hour.

Trees flew sideways injuring 100 people during the 12-hour storm. Thousands are now homeless.


Guam's spokesman, Philip Brady, describes the damage (30")
Power was knocked out for nearly the entire island - a US territory - and the airport and schools were shut down indefinitely.

No deaths were reported. Hospital officials said low barometric pressure induced nine pregnant women to give birth.

"People just hunkered down and hung on for dear life," said Philip Brady, a spokesman for the island's governor.


[ image: Record winds tore metal and wood houses to shreds]
Record winds tore metal and wood houses to shreds
Sustained wind reached 150 mph (241 kph) and instruments at Anderson Air Force Base recorded a gust to 236 mph (380 kph).

That speed topples the record on the Earth's surface of 231 mph (372 kph), set 63 years ago on top of the stormy Mount Washington in the US state of New Hampshire.

Locals lose "everything"

"No more Christmas for me," said John Cruz, 30, as he stood where his wood-and-sheet metal house used to be. "I don't know where I'm going to stay now."

Ben Mesa Jr, 32, and his wife, Mary, returned home from a shelter to find their three-bedroom house gone.

"It's just a total loss," said Mr Mesa. "It may just be a wood-and-tin home, but it was our house. Now we've lost everything."

"This is one of the worst ones we've ever experienced in our history," added Guam's governor, Carlo Gutierrez.

"It's like looking at a 'Victory at Sea' movie when you see the battleground. The trees are toppled and beheaded. There's metal all over the place."

The US President, Bill Clinton, proclaimed the island a major disaster area. Damage was estimated at $200m (120m).

The remote Pacific island is now eligible for US disaster aid.

Paka was the first typhoon to strike Guam since Typhoon Omar hit in 1992.






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