(Video: Raw footage from Palau, 12.3.12/TyphoonHunter)
(South Pacific, HN, 12/4/12) - Palau President Johnson Toribiong said this morning the island nation's capital, Koror, escaped major damage from Typhoon Bopha, but he's waiting for an assessment of eastern atolls and islands where waves went inland.
An initial assessment in Koror shows the damage was not extensive, except for downed trees and power disruption since yesterday afternoon, Toribiong said by phone from Koror.
"We've been blessed," Toribiong said, that Koror was spared from major damage.
Koror's TV and radio services are down and flights have been suspended, the president said. Making phone calls to Palau has been challenging as well.
Toribiong said initial reports showed seawater went inland in areas including Kayangel, Angaur and Babeldaob, where residents evacuated to higher ground.
The president said there has been no report of any casualties on the islands.
Babeldaob is the largest island in Palau with about 6,000 people. Kayangel is the northernmost state of Palau, with a population of less than 200. Angaur, also with a population of less than 200, was inundated with waves that were whipped inland as well, the president said.
He said an assessment of the damage would begin today as Palau is officially declared out of the damaging typhoon’s reach.
Bopha is moving west at 17 mph but is expected to resume a west-northwest motion, according to the National Weather Service.
Maximum sustained winds have decreased to 130 mph. The Weather Service said Bopha is expected to continue to weaken through this evening. As it moves to the Philippines, typhoon-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center of the storm and tropical-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles from the storm's center.
- This report first appeared in the Guam, Pacific Daily News