2 killed as Typhoon Kammuri batters Philippines, leads to closure of Manila airport

2019-12-03 12:54
Debris litter inside the passenger terminal, after one of its walls was destroyed in Legaspi City, Albay province, south of Manila after Typhoon Kamurri battered the province. (Simvale Sayat/AFP).

Debris litter inside the passenger terminal, after one of its walls was destroyed in Legaspi City, Albay province, south of Manila after Typhoon Kamurri battered the province. (Simvale Sayat/AFP).

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Two people were killed as a fierce Typhoon Kammuri descended on parts of the Philippines on Tuesday with strong winds and heavy rain forcing thousands to take refuge in shelters.

Police said one man was crushed by a falling tree and another killed by a flying piece of lumber, both on the island of Mindoro south of the capital.

The capital Manila shut down its international airport as a safety measure.

The powerful storm, which blew in windows and sheared off roofs, roared ashore late Monday and was due to pass south of Manila - home to some 13 million people - and thousands of athletes at the regional Southeast Asian Games.

Nearly 500 flights were cancelled, and officials warned passengers not to come to the airport.

Impact on residents

"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 wind.

Forecasters said Kammuri had weakened but remained strong, with sustained winds of up to 150kph, and maximum gusts of 205kph as it tracked northwest.

Due to the high winds, Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport was "closed for operations", airport authority general manager Ed Monreal told AFP.

Authorities said they hoped operations would resume at 23:00 on Tuesday – weather permitting.

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

Twenty-three-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 Monday morning from the central island of Cebu.

340 000 evacuated

"It was the most turbulent flight I ever took in my life," she told AFP.

"I just discovered what airsickness is."

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 Manila were told to leave their makeshift homes as a precaution, but it was not clear how many people were impacted.

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

The windsurfing competition was halted as a precaution and triathlon events were held earlier than scheduled.

Ramon Suzara, the chief operating officer of the organising committee, said Monday organisers 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.

A history of typhoons

Around 8 750 athletes and team officials are expected at this year's 30th edition - the biggest ever.

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

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

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