Philippines: One dead as the country faces 'most damaging typhoon'

Channel NewsAsia 15 Oct 16;

MANILA: At least one person was killed and three were missing as the Philippines faces what could be "the most damaging" storm this year in the approaching Typhoon Sarika, officials said Saturday.

A man was found dead on the seashore while three fishermen were reported missing in the eastern island of Catanduanes as Sarika, packing maximum winds of 180 kilometres (112 miles) per hour, passed nearby, the civil defence office said.

Although the storm did not hit the island directly, its strong winds and heavy rains still knocked out all power and telephone lines for the more than 246,000 residents of Catanduanes, the office added.

While the typhoon is not the most powerful to hit the country this year, it could cause the most damage as it will cross heavily-populated areas just north of Manila, said government weather forecaster Benison Estareja.

"We can see from the radar that the storm is very destructive. It can destroy wooden houses, it can topple trees. It can possibly rip off roofs," he told AFP.

"This could so far, be the most damaging typhoon this year," Estareja said.

Sarika is forecast to hit the province of Aurora on the east coast of the main island of Luzon before dawn Sunday, he said.

It is expected to cross central Luzon before heading out to sea by Sunday evening, he added.

"This one will have an impact because most of the people are in (that part of) Luzon. Even Metropolitan Manila will be affected," he warned.

These areas will experience strong winds and heavy rains, with coastal areas at risk of storm surges of up to two metres (more than six feet), the forecaster said.

Low-lying areas will be at risk of flooding while mountainous areas could suffer landslides.

Although the storm did not hit the eastern region of Bicol, that area experienced heavy rains as it passed nearby on Saturday, said civil defence spokeswoman Rachel Miranda.

More than 400 people were evacuated from their homes and sea and air travel in these areas has been suspended as a safety precaution, officials said.

The Philippine islands are often the first major landmass to be hit by storms that generate over the Pacific Ocean. The Southeast Asian archipelago endures about 20 major storms each year, many of them deadly.

Haiyan, the strongest typhoon ever recorded to hit land, smashed into the central Philippines on Nov 8, 2013, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing.

- CNA/ek

Philippines evacuates thousands as typhoon slams northern region
Channel NewsAsia 16 Oct 16;

MANILA: The Philippines evacuated almost 12,500 people before a Category 3 typhoon hit land early on Sunday, dumping heavy rains and unleashing strong winds on northern rice-growing areas, disaster officials said.

Weather forecasters said Typhoon Sarika, which was packing winds of up to 150 kph (95 mph) before making landfall, was potentially the most destructive this year. They expected it to move west and cross the central province of Luzon on Sunday.

"Typhoon Sarika has weakened while crossing the rugged terrain of central Luzon," the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in a report, but the storm was still expected to bring moderate to heavy rainfall.

As many as 2,552 families, or 12,496 individuals, had been pre-emptively evacuated, it added.

Sarika's wind speeds subsided to about 130 kph (81 mph) after the landfall, said the weather bureau, adding that it was watching another storm, Haima, that could enter the Philippines on Monday, after forming south of Guam on Saturday.

Typhoon Sarika forced the cancellation of about 160 domestic and international flights on Sunday and stranded more than 6,500 travellers in seaports, disaster officials said.

Storm warning signals had been raised in the capital, Manila, and more than 20 provinces by Sunday morning.

Damage to farm crops, mostly rice and corn, was estimated at 53.5 million pesos (US$1.1 million), the officials said.

Some areas were left without power, and major dams were being closely monitored for possible overflow, while floods and landslides blocked five roads in the northern and southern provinces of the main island of Luzon.

Sarika is moving towards the South China Sea, weather officials said, but the risk of flooding, power outages and wind damage could still increase along its path.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

- Reuters

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