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Typhoon’s 175 MPH Winds Hit Guam

December 16, 1997

AGANA, Guam (AP) _ Typhoon Paka rolled across northern Guam today with wind gusting to 175 mph, causing injuries and major damage, emergency workers said. No deaths were reported.

The island was without electricity, knocking out weather recording instruments, although phones were still in service.

``We’ve got houses flying,″ said John Myers, spokesman for the fire department on the island of nearly 135,000 people.

Twenty injuries, mostly from collapsing homes, were reported but apparently none was life-threatening, according to Civil Defense officials.

Hundreds of people left their homes for emergency shelters in schools, and some people who stayed behind had to be pulled from the wreckage after their houses fell on them. Guests at one resort hotel were evacuated after part of its roof blew away but were later allowed to return, KGUM radio reported.

``Damage is substantial, but we really won’t know the extent until we can make an assessment at daylight,″ said George Toves, spokesman for Guam Civil Defense.

``It’s impossible to drive down any street because utility poles and trees have been blown down,″ said Jon Anderson of KGUM. Streets also are strewn with roofing materials and other wreckage, he said.

The storm reached the U.S. territory packing maximum sustained wind of 150 mph with gusts to more than 175 mph, the National Weather Service said.

The eye of the storm crossed over the northern tip of the island by 8 p.m. today (5 a.m. EST), Toves said.

The wind appeared to diminish somewhat by early Wednesday, Guam time, but the weather service was unable to give a precise report on wind speeds because its instruments were not operating because generators failed.

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