Typhoon tak­ing toll

2 killed amid mass evac­u­a­tions, with nearly 500 flights can­celed in Manila

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

Two killed, 500 flights can­celed af­ter Kam­muri lashes Philip­pines

MANILA — Typhoon Kam­muri on Tues­day lashed the Philip­pines with fierce winds and heavy rain, killing two men as hundreds of thou­sands took refuge in shel­ters and the cap­i­tal Manila shut down its in­ter­na­tional air­port over safety con­cerns.

The pow­er­ful storm, known lo­cally as Tisoy, blew in win­dows and sheared off roofs. It roared ashore late on Mon­day and was due to pass south of Manila — home to nearly 13 mil­lion peo­ple — and thou­sands of ath­letes at the re­gional South­east Asian Games.

Fore­cast­ers said Kam­muri re­mained strong, with sus­tained winds of up to 155 kilo­me­ters per hour, and max­i­mum gusts of 235 km/h as it tracked north­west.

“We’re still as­sess­ing the dam­age but it looks like it’s se­vere,” said Luisito Men­doza, a dis­as­ter of­fi­cial in the town where the storm made land­fall.

“There is one place where wa­ter levels reached the roof, ... our own per­son­nel got hit by shat­tered glass,” he added, say­ing many trees and power poles were felled by the winds.

A 33-year-old man was elec­tro­cuted while at­tempt­ing to fix his roof, a civil de­fense of­fi­cial in the Bi­col re­gion told lo­cal ra­dio. An­other man was crushed by a fall­ing tree, po­lice said.

The man­agers of Manila’s Ni­noy Aquino In­ter­na­tional Air­port had said op­er­a­tions were halted at 11 am as a pre­cau­tion against high winds.

Nearly 500 flights were can­celed and 100,000 peo­ple were im­pacted by the rare pre­cau­tion­ary clo­sure of all four ter­mi­nals at Manila’s main air­port. Au­thor­i­ties had warned pas­sen­gers not to go to the air­port.

One of the ter­mi­nals AFP vis­ited, which would nor­mally be bustling with morn­ing de­par­tures, was oc­cu­pied by a hand­ful of staff and stranded pas­sen­gers.

One trav­eler, 23-year-old Cana­dian Con­stance Benoit, was hit with a nearly day-long de­lay to her flight back home.

She had ar­rived in Manila on a typhoon-buf­feted flight on Mon­day morn­ing from the cen­tral is­land of Cebu.

“It was the most tur­bu­lent flight I ever took in my life,” she said. “I just dis­cov­ered what air­sick­ness is.”

It was not clear when the air­port would re­open, but au­thor­i­ties gave an es­ti­mate of 11 pm on Tues­day and noted their de­ci­sion would de­pend on the weather.

Pic­tures posted by so­cial me­dia users showed waves crash­ing against bul­warks, pan­els fly­ing off roofs, trees on roads or be­ing bat­tered by strong winds.

Air travel con­tin­ued in un­af­fected ar­eas of the coun­try.

About 340,000 peo­ple had been evac­u­ated from their homes in the cen­tral Bi­col re­gion, dis­as­ter of­fi­cials said.

Peo­ple liv­ing in low-ly­ing slum dis­tricts of the Manila area were told leave their makeshift homes as a pre­cau­tion, but it was not clear how many peo­ple were im­pacted.

The Coast Guard sus­pended sea travel in the north­east, strand­ing thou­sands of trav­el­ers, cargo ships and smaller wa­ter­craft in the ar­chi­pel­ago na­tion.

The Philip­pines is hit by an av­er­age of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hundreds and leav­ing peo­ple in dis­as­ter-prone ar­eas in a state of con­stant poverty.

Games with­out spec­ta­tors

The coun­try’s dead­li­est cy­clone on record was Su­per Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 peo­ple dead or miss­ing in 2013.

Kam­muri had al­ready snarled some plans for the South­east Asian Games, which opened on Satur­day and are set to run through Dec 11 in and around Manila.

Or­ga­niz­ers post­poned sev­eral events un­til later in the com­pe­ti­tion, among them surf­ing, kayak­ing, wind­surf­ing, polo, sail­ing, skate­board­ing and ca­noe­ing.

Ra­mon Suzara, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, said on Mon­day that or­ga­niz­ers wanted the com­pe­ti­tions to go on.

“Like (for) vol­ley­ball, it will con­tinue as long as there is power sup­ply and teams and tech­ni­cal of­fi­cials are safe. We will con­tinue but with­out spec­ta­tors,” he added.

Around 8,750 ath­letes and team of­fi­cials are ex­pected at this year’s 30th edi­tion of the Games — the big­gest in the com­pe­ti­tion’s his­tory — along with 12,000 vol­un­teers.

It was the most tur­bu­lent flight I ever took in my life. I just dis­cov­ered what air­sick­ness is.” Con­stance Benoit, Cana­dian trav­eler

NINO LUCES / REUTERS

Res­i­dents gather around their damaged houses af­ter Typhoon Kam­muri hit Legazpi City in the Philip­pines.

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