Typhoon kills 3 as threat down­graded

PAGASA warns dan­ger far from over

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MANILA, Sept 15, (Agen­cies): A strong typhoon tore through the north­ern tip of the Philip­pines on Satur­day pack­ing winds of more than 200 kph (124 mph) along with tor­ren­tial rain, killing at least three peo­ple, wreck­ing homes and trig­ger­ing at least 42 land­slides.

Mangkhut en­tered the Philip­pines as a su­per typhoon in the early hours, and sent fierce winds and heavy rains across the en­tire main is­land of Lu­zon, home to about half the coun­try’s 105 mil­lion peo­ple.

Known lo­cally as Om­pong, Typhoon Mangkhut at one point had max­i­mum gusts of 305 kph (190 mph) be­fore it left the Philip­pines and moved to­wards Hong Kong and south­ern China, with wind speeds that re­duced to 170 kph (106 mph) then to 160 kph in the evening.

The Philip­pine dis­as­ter agency said two res­cue work­ers died while try­ing to free peo­ple trapped in a land­slide in the moun­tain­ous Cordillera re­gion, while po­lice said a body had been found in a river in Manila.

Mauri­cio Do­mo­gan, mayor of Bag­iuo, said three peo­ple were killed in land­slides and six were miss­ing. It was not clear if the three dead in­cluded the res­cue work­ers.

“They didn’t ex­pect it would hap­pen, that’s why they didn’t evac­u­ate. Un­for­tu­nately it hap­pened,” he told DZMM ra­dio.

Duterte

Dan­ger

State weather agency PAGASA down­graded its threat level, but warned the dan­ger was far from over, with storm surges and heavy rains that had caused wide­spread flood­ing and land­slides. “We are ask­ing the peo­ple to re­main alert and con­tinue tak­ing pre­cau­tions,” said me­te­o­rol­o­gist Rene Pa­ciente.

Rapid re­sponse teams were pre­pared to join the air force on search and res­cue mis­sions as civil de­fence teams scoured ar­eas in the path of Mangkhut, which felled trees and pulled down lines of elec­tric­ity poles.

Signs were seen hang­ing off shop fronts, sheet metal roofs peeled off and de­bris was strewn across ur­ban roads.

There was flood­ing in sev­eral prov­inces and parts of the cap­i­tal Manila and of­fi­cials planned to re­lease wa­ter from dams, fear­ing rains could push reser­voirs to dan­ger­ous lev­els.

Mangkhut had been a cat­e­gory 5 storm for days since wreak­ing havoc in US Pa­cific ter­ri­to­ries of Mi­crone­sia be­fore edg­ing to­wards the Philip­pines, where it is the 15th and strong­est storm this year.

Land­fall

The typhoon’s peak winds were stronger than those of Hur­ri­cane Florence in the United States af­ter it piled into the Caroli­nas, be­fore it was down­graded to a trop­i­cal storm. More than 1,000 houses were im­pacted in Ca­gayan prov­ince, where the storm first made land­fall.

Some 105,000 peo­ple in the Philip­pines were stay­ing in tem­po­rary shel­ters af­ter the mass evac­u­a­tion of coastal ar­eas fol­low­ing ma­jor storm surge warn­ings. For­eign and lo­cal aid groups were dis­tribut­ing sup­plies. Power and com­mu­ni­ca­tions were down in parts of north­ern Lu­zon, where some res­i­dents in high-risk ar­eas chose to ride out the storm to pro­tect homes from loot­ers.

The Philip­pines is still haunted by the dev­as­ta­tion of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 peo­ple in cen­tral ar­eas of the coun­try in 2013, most due to huge storm surges.

But dis­as­ter of­fi­cials said the coun­try was now bet­ter pre­pared in terms of evac­u­at­ing and in­form­ing high-risk com­mu­ni­ties, which had ex­pe­ri­enced a su­per typhoon in 2016 and knew what was com­ing.

“I talked to the pres­i­dent last night. His clear and con­cise march­ing or­der was ‘Save lives, save lives,’” said Fran­cis To­lentino, the gov­ern­ment’s dis­as­ter re­sponse co­or­di­na­tor and ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, who was in his home city of Davao in the south. Chi­nese State Coun­cil­lor and For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi post­poned a three-day visit to the Philip­pines start­ing Sun­day, due to the typhoon.

Stand­ing crops in north­ern and cen­tral Lu­zon took a bat­ter­ing from winds and floods in what is the big­gest re­gion in the Philip­pines for grow­ing rice, corn and veg­eta­bles.

Faustino Dy, gover­nor or Is­abela prov­ince, said there were no re­ported ca­su­al­ties there, but farm­land had been badly hit and the ex­tent of in­fra­struc­ture dam­age was un­clear.

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