Typhoon kills 2, strands thousands in Philippines
A powerful but fast-moving typhoon blew out of the northern Philippines yesterday after leaving at least two people dead and displacing more than 15,000, though the region was spared a major disaster due in part to the storm’s speed. Typhoon Sarika blew into Aurora province early yesterday and exited around midday after barreling rapidly through heavily populated agricultural provinces, including landslide-prone mountainous regions, government forecasters said.
At 4 p.m., the storm was over the South China Sea, about 260 kilometers off the Philippine coast, moving northwestward at 24 kilometers per hour. It had sustained winds of 130 kph and gusts of up to 200 kph, according to the Philippines’ weather agency. Despite its strength, the typhoon did not linger long enough to wreak havoc in regions along its path and the weather started to improve in provinces that it had struck, including Aurora. Still, the typhoon forced more than 15,700 villagers to flee their homes in five northern provinces and take refuge in 132 emergency shelters, according to disaster-response agencies.
‘Situation is manageable’
Strong winds and rain knocked down trees and electricity poles, causing power outages and floods in the five provinces. “We have yet to receive the complete details, but I think the situation is manageable,” said Ricardo Jalad, who heads the Office of Civil Defense. “Roofs of some houses were ripped off, there were fallen trees. Those are the damages we received so far, so it’s is not that serious.”
Mayor Nelianto Bihasa of Baler, a popular surfing town in Aurora, said strong winds ripped tin roofs off many houses and knocked down trees and electricity posts, causing power outages and blocking access roads to some villages. Coastal villagers were warned early to move to safer areas, preventing widespread casualties, he said. In the eastern province of Catanduanes, a man drowned after being swept by strong river currents and a farmer died after his head hit the ground amid fierce winds, provincial safety officer
Gerry Beo said, adding that three fishermen had not returned home from a fishing expedition and were reported missing. A month’s worth of rain fell Friday as the typhoon approached from the Pacific, swelling rivers and creeks and flooding low-lying farming villages, Beo said, adding that most towns in the island province of about 260,000 people have no electricity and spotty communications. — AP
MANILA: A boy plays in a swollen creek under a bridge. — AFP