Christ­mas typhoon kills at least 4, de­stroys homes

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ASSOCIATED PRESS in Batangas, the Philip­pines

A pow­er­ful typhoon that spoiled Christ­mas Day in parts of the Philip­pines, leav­ing at least four peo­ple dead and de­stroy­ing homes, roared over a con­gested re­gion near Manila on Mon­day with slightly weaker but still-fierce winds, of­fi­cials said.

Typhoon Nock-Ten cut power to five prov­inces at the height of Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions and dis­placed tens of thou­sands of vil­lagers and trav­el­ers in the na­tion.

A farmer died af­ter be­ing pinned by a fallen tree in Que­zon prov­ince and three other vil­lagers, in­clud­ing a cou­ple who were swept by a flash flood, died in Al­bay prov­ince, south­east of Manila, af­ter the typhoon made land­fall in Casig­u­ran prov­ince on Sun­day night, po­lice said.

Nock-Ten, lo­cally known as Nina, then blew west­ward across moun­tain­ous and is­land prov­inces, dam­ag­ing homes, up­root­ing trees and knock­ing down com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Al­though it had weak­ened slightly, the typhoon still had sus­tained winds of up to 130 km/h and gusts of 215 km/h, gov­ern­ment fore­cast­ers said, as it blew over the heav­ily pop­u­lated prov­inces of Batangas and Cavite, south of Manila, on Mon­day morn­ing. It was ex­pected to exit over the South China Sea later in the day.

A cargo ship with an un­spec­i­fied num­ber of crew­men ra­dioed for help as their ves­sel started to sink off Batangas, while another ran aground and turned on its side in the prov­ince’s Mabini town, the coast guard said, adding that it sent ves­sels to res­cue the crew­men of both ships.

The storm was one of the strong­est to hit the Philip­pines since Typhoon Haiyan left more than 7,300 peo­ple dead or miss­ing and dis­placed over 5 mil­lion in 2014. But of­fi­cials in some prov­inces found it dif­fi­cult to con­vince peo­ple to aban­don their Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions and head for the shel­ters be­fore the storm hit. Some of­fi­cials said they had to im­pose forced evac­u­a­tions.

“Some res­i­dents just re­fused to leave their homes even when I warned them that you can face what amounts to a death penalty,” said Cedric Daep, a top dis­as­ter-re­sponse of­fi­cial in Al­bay.

Shop­ping malls and stores were or­dered to close early on Christ­mas Day to en­cour­age peo­ple to re­main in­doors, “but at the height of the typhoon, many cars were still be­ing driven around and peo­ple were out walk­ing,” Daep said. “We warned them enough, but we just can’t con­trol their mind.”

BUL­LIT MAR­QUEZ / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Peo­ple take shel­ter dur­ing a sud­den downpour caused by Typhoon Nock-Ten on Mon­day near Manila.

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