Super Typhoon Haima kills at least 7 in Philippines

2016-10-20 12:05

Vigan – At least seven people were killed after Super Typhoon Haima smashed into the northern Philippines with ferocious winds and rains overnight, flooding towns and forcing thousands to flee before weakening on Thursday and blowing into the South China Sea, officials said.

Haima's blinding winds and rain had rekindled fears and memories from the catastrophe wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, but there were no immediate reports of any major damage amid faulty communications and power outages in several villages cut off from government aid and rescue teams by fallen trees, landslide and flood.

A resident is seen on the roof of his house
A resident is seen on the roof of his house, which was destroyed by super typhoon Haima. (Ted Aljibe/AFP)

At least seven people were killed in the storm, officials said. But the evacuations from high-risk communities helped prevent a larger number of casualties.

Two construction workers died when a landslide buried their shanty in La Trinidad town in the mountain province of Benguet, officials said, while two villagers perished in another landslide and another was swept away in a river and remains missing in Ifugao province, near Benguet. 

A 70-year-old man died apparently of a heart attack in an emergency shelter while another man died after being pinned by a fallen tree in Isabela province. One other typhoon-related death was reported in northern Ilocos region but details were not immediately available.

'Strongest typhoon ever seen'

Although storms are a part of life in the country's north, many villagers were still horrified by Haima's fury.

"In my age, I'm 60 years old, this is the strongest typhoon I have ever seen," village councillor Willie Cabalteja told The Associated Press in Vigan city in Ilocos Sur province. "We haven't slept. Trees were forced down, houses lost their roofs and fences and metal sheets were flying around all night."

The fast-moving Pacific typhoon slammed into shore in northeastern Cagayan province late on Wednesday, then barrelled northwestward before blowing out into the South China Sea with sustained winds of 150km/h and gusts of up to 185km/h, according to forecasters.

Although weakening, the typhoon was expected to blow toward China, Filipino forecasters said.

After dawn, the extent of damage in Cagayan – about 500km north of Manila – and nearby regions became evident, with overturned vans, toppled or leaning electric posts and debris blocking roads. Most stores, their window panes shattered and canopies shredded by the wind, were closed.

In northern Ilocos Sur province, rice fields resembled brown lakes under waist-high floodwaters, although cleanup operations had started.

Still recovering

"Search, rescue and retrieval operations are ongoing," Office of Civil Defence administrator Ricardo Jalad said in a statement.

The government's weather agency lowered most of its storm warnings after the typhoon blew out of the main northern Luzon region.

Many of the provinces hit by the storm were still recovering from a powerful typhoon that killed two people and displaced tens of thousands of villagers last weekend.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, on a state visit to China, urged people in the typhoon's path to heed orders by disaster agencies. Duterte is to fly home on Friday.

About 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, adding to the many burdens in a country that is also threatened by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and considered one of the world's most disaster-prone nations.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines with ferocious power, leaving more than 7 300 people dead and displacing more than 5 million others after levelling entire villages.

Read more on:    philippines  |  weather  |  typhoons

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