Saturday 7 December 2019

Typhoon leaves at least four dead in Philippines

Officials attributed the low casualty figure to the early evacuation of hundreds of thousands of villagers.

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

By Jim Gomez, Associated Press

Typhoon Kammuri has barrelled across the Philippines with fierce winds and rain, leaving at least four people dead, forcing hundreds of thousands to abandon high-risk villages and closing Manila’s international airport.

Kammuri toppled trees and electrical posts, ripped off tin roofs and battered a provincial airport as it blew across island provinces in the southern fringes of the main northern Luzon island before blowing into the South China Sea.

It weakened but remained dangerous with maximum sustained winds of 81mph and gusts of up to 124mph as it exited, forecasters said.

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Men cut down fallen trees in Albay province (AP)

At least four people died and several others were reported injured. Officials attributed the low casualty figure to the early evacuation of hundreds of thousands of villagers from communities prone to high waves, flash floods and landslides.

One villager was electrocuted while fixing the roof of his house in Libmanan town in Camarines Sur province in the hard-hit Bicol region, regional disaster response officer Claudio Yucot said.

In Oriental Mindoro, one of the last provinces to be lashed by the typhoon, a man died after being pinned by a fallen tree and another was hit by a tin roof, governor Humerlito Dolor said.

A construction worker on a motorcycle was hit by a falling tree and died in the port city of Ormoc in Leyte province, police said.

“There could have been more if we did not do pre-emptive evacuations,” Mr Dolor told reporters.

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Damaged homes in Legazpi city (AP)

The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons and tropical storms each year and has frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, making the archipelago of more than 100 million people one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations.

Evacuating entire villages and communities and providing supplies to huge numbers of residents camped in schools and government buildings used as emergency shelters is common during typhoons, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, largely because many mostly poor communities are in disaster-prone areas.

Kammuri’s pounding rain and wind damaged the airport in Legazpi city in Albay province, collapsing a portion of its ceiling, scattering chairs in the arrival and departure areas and shattering glass panes.

A truck turned on its side after being buffeted by strong winds in the city, near Mount Mayon, one of the country’s most active volcanos.

Albay is one of several provinces in the Bicol region which lost post power due to toppled posts and downed transmission lines. Nearly two million people were affected by the power outages, officials said.

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Residents are evacuated (AP)

In Manila, officials shut the international airport for seven hours as the typhoon roared through provinces south of the capital. More than 400 domestic and international flights were cancelled, airport manager Ed Monreal said.

Authorities moved thousands of Boy Scouts attending a jamboree in the mountainous town of Botolan in the north-western province of Zambales.

The Philippines postponed several competitions in the Southeast Asian Games, including wind surfing, polo and tennis in Manila and outlying provinces. Organisers said other events would be delayed if needed for safety but there was no plan to extend the 11-day games which opened on Saturday.

The coastguard suspended sea travel in the north east, stranding more than 7,000 travellers along with thousands of cargo ships and smaller watercraft in the archipelago nation.

PA Media

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