Mon, Oct 19, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Typhoon Koppu leaves at least one dead in Philippines


A girl wades through floodwaters brought by Typhoon Koppu in San Jose, the Philippines, yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Slow-moving Typhoon Koppu weakened after blowing ashore with fierce winds in the northeastern Philippines yesterday, leaving at least one person dead and six others missing, while displacing 16,000 villagers, officials said.

Philippine army troops and police were deployed to rescue residents trapped in flooded villages in the hard-hit provinces of Aurora — where the typhoon blew ashore early yesterday — and Nueva Ecija, a nearby rice-growing province, where floodwaters swamped farmland at harvest time, officials said.

After slamming into Aurora’s Casiguran town after midnight on Saturday, the typhoon weakened and slowed considerably, hemmed in by the Sierra Madre mountain range, a high-pressure area in the nation’s north and another typhoon far out in the Pacific Ocean in the east, Philippine government forecaster Gladys Saludes said.

Howling winds knocked down trees and electric posts, leaving nine entire provinces without power, while floods and small landslides made 25 roads and bridges impassable.

Authorities suspended dozens of flights and sea voyages due to the stormy weather, and many cities canceled classes today.

By yesterday afternoon, the typhoon had veered toward the north from its westward course and was tracked over mountainous Nueva Vizcaya province with sustained winds of 150kph and gusts of up to 185kph, according to the government’s weather agency.

Satellite images showed that the typhoon appeared to be losing its eye, a sign of its dissipating strength, acting Philippine Weather Bureau head Esperanza Cayanan told reporters, adding that Koppu was forecast to move at a slow pace of 5kph across the north before exiting the main island of Luzon on Wednesday.

While weather had begun to improve in some towns and villagers had started to clear roads of fallen trees and debris, Koppu was still packing a ferocity that could set off landslides and flash floods, officials said.

“There’s still danger,” Cayanan said. “We shouldn’t be complacent.”

A teenager was pinned to death by a fallen tree, which also injured four people and damaged three houses in suburban Quezon in Metro Manila.

A man was electrocuted in northern Tarlac province and two bodies were seen being swept by floodwaters in Nueva Ecija, but authorities were trying to determine whether those were typhoon-related deaths.

Three fishermen were reported missing in northern Bataan province, along with three other men in Aurora’s Baler town, according to the Philippine Office of Civil Defense.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and disaster-response agencies have warned that Koppu’s rain and winds might potentially bring more damage with its slow speed.

However, Saludes said there was less heavy rain than initially expected in some areas, including in Manila, but fierce winds lashed many regions.

A wayward barge carrying coal and 10 crew drifted dangerously close to a breakwater and marina in Manila Bay. A tugboat was positioned to prevent the barge from drifting away.

Forecasters said the typhoon had a cloud band of 600km and could dump rain over much of Luzon.

Koppu — Japanese for “cup” — is the 12th storm to hit the Philippines this year. An average of 20 storms and typhoon each year batter the archipelago, one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

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