Typhoon Hagibis: Eye of storm passes through Northern Marianas

1:56 pm on 8 October 2019
Typhoon Hagibis.

Typhoon Hagibis. Photo: JTWC

A powerful super-typhoon passing through the Northern Marianas has left the territory mostly unscathed.

The eye of Super Typhoon Hagibis passed over the remote northern region this morning, grazing an uninhabited island.

RNZ Pacific's correspondent in Saipan, Mark Rabago, said damage elsewhere had been limited.

He described the storm as a "banana typhoon".

"Most of the damage it was able to inflict was on trees, on banana trees to be exact. A lot of fallen trees. I just did a quick walk around the neighbourhood and a lot of banana trees have fallen and some bushes."

People would likely remain indoors until tomorrow morning when the storm has passed.

Schools and government offices had earlier been ordered closed, with much of the territory on the highest state of alert because of Typhoon Hagibis.

US President Donald Trump today approved an emergency declaration for Super Typhoon Hagibis, freeing up disaster relief and emergency assistance for the territory.

In a statement on Tuesday, Governor Ralph Torres said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will now coordinate all relief efforts and assist first responders.

Mr Rabago earlier said evacuation centres had quickly filled, with hundreds of people still living in tents or makeshift homes nearly a year after the devastation wrought by Supertyphoon Yutu.

A meteorologist at the National Weather Service on Guam, Brandon Bukunt, said the main island, Saipan, could expect winds gusting as high as 130km/h for much of the day as the storm slowly moves away.

"The wind field is likely broadening, and so even though it's pushing away it's maintaining strong winds across the islands," said Mr Bukunt. "But as far as specific damage, we don't have that information yet."

Mr Bukunt said flood warnings were also in force for Guam, to the south.