A powerful typhoon yesterday slammed into the northeastern Philippines, leaving at least two people dead, knocking out power and isolating villages amid floods and toppled trees, before it weakened as it moved toward the South China Sea.
The local weather bureau said it was closely monitoring another storm that could enter the eastern boundary today.
The bureau has lowered storm warning signals for Typhoon Haima, or Lawin in the Philippines, but said it was keeping a close watch on its movement.
“It’s still far out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility, but it’s now in the level of a storm. Over time, while traveling over water, it gains strength so that’s our next concern,” Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director Ricardo Jalad said.
Typhoon Sarika, known locally as Karen, blew into Aurora province early yesterday and was barreling 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 main northern Luzon Island by midday into the South China Sea.
Haima has been spotted far out in the Pacific and might strengthen as it heads toward the Philippines this week, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.
Nearly 10,000 villagers fled their homes in Sarika’s path and were taken in by more than 100 emergency shelters, Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said.
Baler Mayor Nelianto Bihasa 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.
In Bataan province, 50 mountaineers were forced to descend from Mount Tarak in stormy weather, but 36 others remained stranded in the uplands, according to police and firefighters who were trying to rescue them.
In the northern mountain province of Benguet, 16 mountaineers were stranded on Mount Pulag and forest rangers were enroute to rescue them, officials said.
About 200 domestic and international flights have been canceled and thousands of passengers were stranded in seaports after inter-island ferries were ordered not to venture out in rough seas.
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