Typhoon kills ten, displaces 370,000 in Philippines

Wednesday 16 July 2014 19.09
A man walks through heavy wind and rain as Typhoon Rammasun barrels across Manila
A man walks through heavy wind and rain as Typhoon Rammasun barrels across Manila

A typhoon has killed at least ten people as it churned across the Philippines and shut down the capital, cutting power and prompting the evacuation of more than 370,000 people.

The eye of Typhoon Rammasun, the strongest storm to hit the country this year, passed to the south of Manila after cutting a path across the main island of Luzon.

Major roads across Luzon were blocked by debris, fallen trees, electricity poles and tin roofs ripped off village houses.

The storm uprooted trees in the capital where palm trees lining major arteries were bent over by the wind as broken hoardings bounced down the streets.

Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, said there was minimal damage in the capital but staff were trying to rescue people trapped by fallen debris in Batangas City to the south where two people were electrocuted.

"We have not received reports of major flooding in Metro Manila because the typhoon did not bring rain, but the winds were strong," he said.

Gallery of images of Typhoon Rammasun 

The number of evacuated people had reached more than 370,000, mostly in the eastern province of Albay, the first to be hit by the typhoon, the disaster agency said.

They were taken to schools, gymnasiums and town halls converted into shelters.

At least four southeastern provinces on Luzon declared, or were about to declare, a state of calamity, allowing the local governments to tap emergency relief funds.

The storm brought storm surges to Manila Bay and prompted disaster officials to evacuate slum-dwellers on the capital's outskirts. More surges were expected as the storm headed west.

More than half of Luzon was without power supply, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla told reporters, adding that he could not say when it would be back up.

Manila Electric Company, the country's biggest power utility exclusively supplying to the capital, said around 86% of its customers were without electricity.

Parts of the Philippines are still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan, one of the biggest cyclones known to have made landfall anywhere.

It killed more than 6,100 people last November in the central provinces, many in tsunami-like sea surges, and left millions homeless.

Tropical Storm Risk, which monitors cyclones, labelled Rammasun a category-two storm on a scale of one to five as it headed west into the South China Sea. Super typhoon Haiyan was category five.

But it predicted Rammasun would gain in strength to a category-three storm within a couple of days once it was back out at sea, picking up energy from the warm waters as it headed for the Chinese island of Hainan.