Typhoon Koppu smashes through Philippines

A man surveys the damage done after Typhoon Koppu struck in the north-east Philippines. Picture: Getty
A man surveys the damage done after Typhoon Koppu struck in the north-east Philippines. Picture: Getty
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SLOW-MOVING Typhoon Koppu weakened after blowing ashore with fierce winds in the northeastern Philippines yesterday, leaving at least one person dead and six others missing, while displacing 16,000 villagers, officials said.

Soldiers and police were deployed to rescue residents trapped in flooded villages in the hard-hit provinces of Aurora, where the typhoon blew ashore early yesterday morning, and Nueva Ecija, a nearby rice-growing province where floodwaters swamped farmlands at harvest time, officials said.

After slamming into the town of Casiguran in Aurora in the early hours of yesterday morning, the typhoon weakened and slowed considerably, hemmed in by the Sierra Madre mountain range and a high pressure area in the country’s north and another typhoon far out in the Pacific in the east, government forecaster Gladys Saludes said.

Howling winds knocked down trees and electric posts, leaving nine entire provinces without power while floods and small landslides made 25 roads and bridges impassable. Authorities suspended dozens of flights and sea voyages due to the stormy weather, and many cities cancelled classes today.

By yesterday afternoon, the typhoon had veered toward the north from its westward course and was tracked over mountainous Nueva Vizcaya province with sustained winds of 93mph and gusts of up to 115 mph, according to the government’s weather agency.

Satellite images show that the typhoon appeared to be losing its eye, a sign of its dissipating strength, acting weather bureau chief Esperanza Cayanan said, adding that Koppu was forecast to move at a slow pace of 3mph across the north before exiting the main northern island of Luzon on Wednesday.

While weather had begun to improve in some towns, and villagers had started to clear roads of fallen trees and debris, Koppu was still packing a ferocity that could set off landslides and flash floods, officials said.

“There’s still danger,” Cayanan said. “We shouldn’t be complacent.”

A teenager was pinned to death yesterday by a fallen tree, which also injured four people and damaged three houses in suburban Quezon city in the Manila metropolis.

A man was electrocuted in northern Tarlac province and two bodies were seen being swept by floodwaters in Nueva Ecija, but authorities were trying to determine whether those were typhoon-related deaths, and three fishermen were reported missing in northern Bataan province.