The eye of Typhoon Rammasun – the strongest storm to hit the country this year – passed south of Manila yesterday after cutting a path across the main island of Luzon, toppling trees and power lines, causing electrocutions and blackouts.
Major roads across Luzon were blocked by debris, fallen trees, electricity poles and tin roofs ripped off village houses.
Public works and highways secretary Rogelio Singson and Admiral Alexander Pama, the director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, surveyed the affected areas by helicopter.
“I am happily surprised because of the minimal casualties and damage,” Mr Singson said, adding the typhoon had passed through the most populated area of the country, with about 17 million people in its path.
Mr Singson and Adm Pama said the government was more prepared this time, after the devastation caused by super typhoon Haiyan in November, evacuating people at risk in coastal and landslide-prone areas well before the typhoon made landfall.
Parts of the Philippines are still recovering from Haiyan, one of the biggest cyclones known to have made landfall anywhere.
It killed more than 6,100 people in the central provinces, many in tsunami-like sea surges, and left millions homeless.
Manila Electric Company, the country’s biggest power utility, said around 86 per cent of its customers were without electricity.
Rhea Catada, who works for Oxfam in Tacloban, which suffered the brunt of Haiyan, said thousands of people in tents and coastal villages had been evacuated to higher ground.
“They are scared because their experiences during Haiyan last year are still fresh,” she said. “Now they are evacuating voluntarily and leaving behind their belongings.”
A 25-year-old woman was killed when she was hit by a falling electricity pole as Rammasun hit the east coast on Tuesday, the disaster agency said.
A pregnant woman was killed when a house wall collapsed in Lucena City in Quezon province south of the capital.
Train services in the capital remained suspended yesterday because of the lack of power.
Ferry services resumed, including to the holiday island of Boracay where 300 tourists were stranded.