Malaysians in Philippines safe

KUALA LUMPUR - Twelve Malaysians in the Visayan Islands that was hit by super typhoon Haiyan early yesterday are safe.

First Secretary of the Malaysian embassy in the Philippines Raveendran Nair said the Malaysians had been advised to stay indoors.

The typhoon, locally known as Yolanda, a category-5 super typhoon with winds nearing 313kph and gusts as strong as 380kph, is the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded, according to weather agencies.

The 12 Malaysians comprise seven students and five workers in the hospitality industry.

Raveendran said the embassy was in touch with the Malaysians and were keeping tabs on their wellbeing.

"We have informed all Malaysians to be in constant contact with the embassy and also their families back in Malaysia, regardless whether they are in the badly hit areas or safer places."

He said the seven students were on campus and had been advised by university authorities to stay indoors at all times.

The embassy is on high alert and prepared for emergency calls by any of the 700 registered Malaysians in the country.

The storm is expected to continue moving up to the west-northwest of the country, which includes Manila, today.

Malaysians residing in Manila have been told by the embassy to stay indoors and take extra precautions.

At least three people have been killed and seven injured according to reports as of yesterday evening, while millions of people in vulnerable areas across 20 provinces have been forced to seek shelter.

Schools and offices have been closed with ferry services and local flights suspended, while hospitals and soldiers have been put on stand-by.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department has issued a warning on its website, stating that the strong winds and rough seas were dangerous to all shipping and coastal activities, including fishing and ferry services.

It stated that winds of over 60kph with waves higher than 4.5m occurring in waters off Sabah's west coast, Kudat and Sandakan, Labuan, Condore, Reef North, Palawan, Layang-Layang and Sulu were expected to continue until Nov 12.

Meanwhile, artist Fairuz Sulaiman, who is in Manilla for the Media/Art Kitchen exhibition, said yesterday the skies began to darken at 3.30pm.

He said people were up to their usual business as the capital city was yet to be hit. However, he added, some schools had been closed.

"No one is panicking just yet but I heard from the news that the storm will be arriving by 8pm tonight (yesterday)," said Fairuz, who has been in Manila for a week.

As of 7pm yesterday, all flights to and from the Philippines have not been cancelled or delayed.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd told the New Straits Times that flight schedules were to be updated by airlines should there be any disruptions.

The public is advised to contact the airlines for further enquiries.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang was safe in Manila.

Tan is attending a conference and the 20th anniversary of the Council of Asian Liberals & Democrats, of which Gerakan is a member.

"I am safe in the hotel in Manila... the situation is okay. Not much traffic jams here because everyone is staying indoors. School and university activities have been cancelled as a precautionary measure.

"I was giving a talk at the University of Santo Tomas Manila when the typhoon hit the Philippines," Tan said.

"However, there was some turbulence during the flight when it was approaching Manila airport. Perhaps the typhoon."

Tan, who arrived in Manila on Thursday night, said he would return to Malaysia on Monday.