Sunday 17 November 2019

Two die as typhoon slams into Philippines at 160kmh

A Filipino man sits inside his makeshift home as the typhoon hits the coastal town of Navotas, north of Manila
A Filipino man sits inside his makeshift home as the typhoon hits the coastal town of Navotas, north of Manila

Jim Gomez Manila

At least two people were killed and 16,000 left homeless after Typhoon Koppu slammed into the Philippines with winds of up to 160kmh yesterday.

The storm has now begun to weaken but officials fear more flooding.

Army troops and police were deployed to rescue residents trapped in flooded villages in the hard-hit northeastern province of Aurora, where the typhoon made landfall early in the morning, and Nueva Ecija, a nearby rice-growing province where floodwaters swamped rice farmlands at harvest time.

After hitting Aurora's Casiguran town, the typhoon weakened and slowed down, hemmed in by the Sierra Madre mountain range and a high pressure area in the country's north and another typhoon far out in the Pacific in the east.

Howling winds knocked down trees and electric posts, leaving nine entire provinces without power, while floods and small landslides made 25 roads and bridges impassable.

Authorities suspended dozens of flights and sea voyages due to the stormy weather, and many cities cancelled schools for today.

Late last night, the typhoon was blowing over the northern mountainous province of Ifugao and was continuing to weaken. It had sustained winds of 130km per hour and gusts of up to 160kmh and was blowing northward at just 5kmh, according to the government's weather agency. It's expected to weaken to a tropical storm by late today and exit the main northern island of Luzon on Wednesday.

While weather conditions had begun to improve in some towns, and villagers had started to clear roads of fallen trees and debris, Koppu still packed a ferocity that could set off landslides and flash floods.

"We're asking our countrymen not to become complacent," said Alexander Pama, who heads the government's disaster-response agency, citing how rainwater could cascade down mountainsides after Koppu passed and flood villages.

That happened in low-lying villages in six towns in Nueva Ecija, near Aurora, where some residents were trapped on rooftops by floodwaters.

A teenager was pinned to death yesterday by a fallen tree, which also injured four people and damaged three houses in suburban Quezon city in the Manila metropolis. In Subic town, northwest of Manila, a concrete wall collapsed and killed a 62-year-old woman and injured her husband.

Three fishermen who had gone missing at sea were rescued off Bataan province, and three other missing people were found in an evacuation camp in Aurora's Baler town.

President Benigno Aquino III and disaster-response agencies had warned that Koppu's rain and winds may potentially bring more damage with its slow speed. Koppu is the 12th storm to hit the Philippines this year.

Irish Independent

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