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State of emergency as super typhoon batters Micronesia

An emergency was declared in the Micronesian state of Chuuk Wednesday as Super Typhoon Maysak cut a destructive path across the central Pacific leaving at least five dead and extensive damage.

Crops were ruined and water supplies contaminated, with fears people faced starvation if they did not get aid soon, after the violent storm took three days to cross the vast Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

"Governor Johnson Elimo declared a state of emergency (in Chuuk) due to damage by Typhoon Maysak, including five deaths," FSM President Manny Mori said in a statement, indicating foreign aid would be needed to support relief efforts.

He did not specify where the deaths occurred, but earlier reports said five people were killed on Chuuk.

There was extensive damage to "schools, health facilities, public utilities, private residences, and the sinking of several fishing, passenger and dive ships," he said.

An emergency task force has been set up to look at all sources of funding "such as potential foreign partners and donors" to get the relief operation under way.

Maysak, with sustained winds of 260 kilometres per hour (160 miles per hour), slammed into Chuuk on Sunday night and crossed the vast archipelago of 607 islands before battering the Yap group of islands on Wednesday and heading out to sea towards the Philippines.

At the University of Guam Telecommunication and Distance Education Operation, associate director Manny Hechanova made radio contact with some of the islands and said most fruit trees were destroyed.

"The immediate need is food, water and clothing," he told the Pacific Daily News in Guam.

"These islands are on their own, with limited food supplies. They may have to wait for three to five days and they may not be ready to wait that long. Starvation is a real possibility."

As Maysak churned its way across the FSM, Yap disaster coordination officer Raymond Igechep told Radio New Zealand that residents in the Ulithi and Fais islands "have seen houses blown off their platforms".

Although the eye of the storm skirted Yap it was experienced powerful winds with debris flung through the air.

"I have a feeling that we won`t get up to ...160 (mph) but a tin roof (is) flying around outside," Igechep said.

Maysak is forecast to remain a super typhoon "through to early Friday morning," meteorologists in Guam, 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) away, said in a bulletin Wednesday afternoon for FSM.

"Seas will remain hazardous for another day or so. Do not attempt inter-island travel over the next few days."

Maysak, which comes on the heels of Cyclone Pam hitting the Pacific nation of Vanuatu over two weeks ago, causing widespread damage and 11 deaths, was expected to weaken before it reached the Philippines at the weekend.

The Philippines is still recovering from Super Typhoon Haiyan which struck in November 2013, leaving more than 7,350 people dead or missing.