Wed, Jul 23, 2003 - Page 5 News List

At least five dead as Imbudo blasts the Philippines

PACKING A PUNCH The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines since 1998 is expected to blow off toward Hong Kong by Thursday, forecasters said

AFP , MANILA

Two men run from strong winds whipping up huge waves along Manila Bay yesterday as Typhoon Imbudo slammed into the northern Philippines. At least five people were reported killed by peak sustained winds of nearly 200kph, rescuers and radio reports said.

PHOTO: AFP

At least five people were killed yesterday and thousands displaced as Typhoon Imbudo slammed into the Philippines packing winds of nearly 200kph, officials said.

The strongest typhoon to strike the Philippines in five years toppled power pylons and uprooted trees as it reached land on the northern town of Palanan in mid-morning, blocking roads and blacking out a wide area of the north.

The typhoon knocked over a tree, crushing five people underneath and injuring nine others in San Augustin town on the central island of Romblon, the Red Cross and the Civil Defense Office said.

One person was reported missing from a capsized boat off the western island of Palawan on Sunday, the coastguard said.

All government offices were closed by noon and officials declared a holiday for all school levels in Manila, where high winds and strong rain disrupted power supply.

More than 2,000 families were evacuated after flash floods were reported to have washed away an estimated 50 houses in several towns in the southern island of Maguindanao, the civil defense office said.

Nearly 2,000 people were meanwhile stranded at sea ports in southeastern Luzon and nearby central islands after their ships were barred from sailing.

At least four domestic flights were cancelled while Manila's overhead Light Railway Transit, which serves tens of thousands of commuters daily, was disabled for two hours by power outages.

Imbudo struck Palanan in the north of the main Philippine island of Luzon at 10am and was moving inland, the weather bureau said.

It is forecast to rake across four Luzon provinces later Tuesday before exiting into the sea off the northern city of Laoag early Wednesday.

The typhoon is the strongest to hit the country since 1998, the weather bureau said.

Imbudo has peak winds of 190kph and with gusts of 230kph an hour.

Authorities warned residents of low-lying areas and near mountain slopes to be on the alert for floods and landslides, as well as coastal flooding on Luzon's east coast. The Red Cross said uprooted trees blocked relief convoys going to the Palanan area.

The typhoon is expected to move west-northwest of Laoag city in northern Luzon this morning before blowing off towards Hong Kong on Thursday.

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