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Rain and winds lash Guam as Typhoon Mawar closes in and residents shelter



Rain and winds lash Guam as Typhoon Mawar closes in and residents shelter

Residents of Guam are hunkering down as the US territory prepares for Typhoon Mawar to make landfall

Residents of the US territory of Guam on Wednesday hunkered down to face the devastating winds and torrential rains of Typhoon Mawar, which is expected to be the worst storm to hit the Pacific island in decades.

People stockpiled supplies and anyone not living in a concrete house was urged to seek safety elsewhere ahead of the typhoon, which was forecast to arrive as a Category 4 storm with winds of 225 kph but could possibly strengthen to a Category 5. The last time a Category 5 directly hit Guam was in 1962.

Many communities on the island had lost power by the afternoon and some to the south had lost water service. A flash flood warning was issued for the entire island as forecasters predicted as much as 64 centimetres of rain in addition to a life-threatening storm surge of 1.2 to 2 metres.

Ahead of the storm, Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero ordered residents of coastal, low-lying and flood-prone areas to higher elevations. 

The territory of over 150,000 people is a crucial hub for US forces in the Pacific, and the Department of Defense controls about a third of the island. 

The military said it moved its ships out to sea as a standard precaution. It sent its aircraft off the island or placed them in protective hangars. Any personnel remaining on the island were sheltering in place. About 6,800 US service members are assigned to Guam, according to the Pentagon.

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