Storm hits heavily populated area in Philippines
UN boss visits Haiti
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) speaks with women whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti on Saturday. He arrived to see firsthand the extent of the destruction left by the Category 4 storm earlier this month. A powerful typhoon has slammed into the northeastern Philippines, leaving at least two people dead, knocking out power and isolating villages amid floods and toppled trees.
Typhoon Sarika, locally known as Karen, blew into Aurora province early yesterday and was barrelling fast through heavily-populated agricultural provinces, including landslide-prone areas, with sustained winds of 130kph and gusts of 220kph.
It was forecast to blow out of the main northern Luzon island into the South China Sea. A separate storm has been spotted far out in the Pacific and may strengthen as it heads toward the Philippines this week, according to the government’s weather agency.
Nearly 10,000 villagers fled their homes in Sarika’s path and were taken in more than 100 emergency shelters, Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said.
Mayor Nelianto Bihasa of Baler, a popular surfing town in Aurora, said howling wind ripped tin roofs off many houses and knocked down trees and electric posts, causing power outages and blocking access roads to some villages. Coastal villagers were warned early to move to safer areas and there have been no immediate reports of casualties other than two injured residents. In eastern Catanduanes province, a man drowned after being swept by strong river currents and a farmer died after his head hit the ground in fierce wind, provincial safety officer Gerry Beo said, adding that three fishermen have not returned home from a fishing expedition and were reported missing. Another death related to the typhoon was being checked in nearby Camarines Sur province, officials said.
A month’s worth of rain poured on 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. About 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, adding to other burdens in a country that’s also threatened by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The latest typhoon, Sarika, was named after a bird in Cambodia.