16 July 2014, 09:31

Typhoon kills 12 in Philippines, shuts down Manila, prompts mass evacuations

Typhoon kills 12 in Philippines, shuts down Manila, prompts mass evacuations

A typhoon killed at least 12 people as it churned across the Philippines and hit the capital, prompting the evacuation of almost more than 370,000 people as well as shutting down financial markets, offices and schools, rescue officials said on Wednesday. Eight died after being hit by toppled trees, electric posts or collapsed concrete walls, while three drowned in swollen rivers and one died from a heart attack.

The victims included an 11-month-old boy and a family of three who were crushed when their houses collapsed in the provinces of Quezon and Cavite.

The eye of Typhoon Rammasun, the strongest storm to hit the country this year, passed to the south of Manila on Wednesday after cutting a path across the main island of Luzon, toppling trees and power lines and causing electrocutions and widespread blackouts.


© Photo: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Major roads across Luzon were blocked by debris, fallen trees and electricity poles. The storm uprooted trees in the capital where palm trees lining major arteries were bent over nearly double by the wind as broken hoardings bounced down the streets.

Rammasun, locally called Glenda, strengthened as it whipped Manila with maximum winds of 150 kilometres per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 185 kph, the weather bureau said. It sped up and was moving west-north-west at 26 kph.

Power was cut off in many parts of Manila and the eastern Philippines, where hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes before Rammasun made landfall on Tuesday.

The howling winds sent debris flying in the air and toppled trees and electric posts, which blocked roads in Manila and surrounding areas. Antenna towers and cranes swayed as the typhoon's eye passed over Manila Bay.

A wall collapsed near a construction area in the Manila suburb of Quezon, injuring two people, while several trees fell on parked vehicles.


© Photo: REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Classes at all school levels and work in government and some private offices were suspended in Manila, a metropolis of 12 million people. The financial markets were also closed.

More than 200 domestic and international flights were cancelled, while operations of Manila's overhead train system were suspended.

The typhoon's strong winds tripped many electric transmission lines, while some power plants were shut down to prevent accidents, according to Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.

"We will have to wait for the winds to die down before we start restoration work," he said

Rammasun is the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year.

The country is still recovering from typhoon Haiyan, one of the world's strongest cyclones, which killed more than 6,200 people and displaced over 4 million in November.

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