Typhoon Rammasun slammed into large swathes of the Philippines on Wednesday, killing at least one and forcing hundreds of thousands to take shelter in evacuation centres.
Sweeping in from the Pacific Ocean, wind gusts of up to 250 kilometers (155 miles) per hour tore through the Filipino capital Manila, tearing down trees, ripping up roofs and overturning cars.
"Roofing sheets are flying off the tops of houses here... the wind is whistling," Joey Salceda, the governor of Albay province in the eastern Bicol region said over ABS-CBN television on Tuesday night.
One woman was killed on neighbouring Samar Island on Tuesday night when she was hit by an electricity post, the spokeswoman of the government's disaster management council, Mina Marasigan, told AFP.
Three fishermen in the east were also reported missing.
The eye of the storm just missed Manila, home to more than 12 million people, but giant winds still caused chaos in the city.
Power in many areas, including the business district of Makati, was cut just after dawn as branches were torn off trees and electricity lines snapped. Many areas are still without electricity. All of the city’s schools and government offices were closed on Wednesday, with authorities urging people to stay indoors.
Across the country, about 450,000 people had fled their homes and sheltered in evacuation centres, according to Social Welfare Minister Corazon Soliman.
In Haiyan’s shadow
Parts of the Philippines are still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan, one of the biggest and deadliest storms in the country's history; It killed more than 6,200 people last year, many in tsunami-like sea surges up to seven meters (23 feet) high. Millions were left homeless.
Rammasun, which is Thai for "God of Thunder", was expected to move out into the South China Sea on Wednesday afternoon, then track towards southern China, according to the national weather service.
The Philippines is hit by about 20 major storms a year, many of them deadly. The Southeast Asian archipelago is often the first major landmass to be struck after storms build above the warm Pacific Ocean waters. Rammasun was the first typhoon to make landfall since this year's rainy season began in June.
With the disaster of Haiyan still haunting the nation, President Benigno Aquino stressed on Tuesday night that people in Rammasun's path must be made to understand the dangers facing them.
"The objective has to be (to) minimise the casualties and the hardship of our people," he told civil defence officials.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-07-16