Slow-moving Typhoon Koppu has weakened after blowing ashore with fierce winds in the north-eastern Philippines, leaving at least two people dead and six others missing, while displacing 16,000 villagers.
Army troops and police were deployed to rescue residents trapped in flooded villages in the hard-hit provinces of Aurora, where the typhoon blew ashore, and Nueva Ecija, a nearby rice-growing province where floodwaters swamped farmlands at harvest time.
After slamming into Aurora’s Casiguran town after midnight, 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 electricity pylons, 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.
By the afternoon, the typhoon had veered toward the north from its westward course and was tracked over mountainous Nueva Vizcaya province with sustained winds of 93 miles per hour and gusts of up to 115mph, 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 told reporters, 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,” Mr Cayanan said. “We shouldn’t be complacent.”
A teenager was pinned to death by a fallen tree, which also injured four people and damaged three houses in suburban Quezon city in the Manila metropolis. In Subic town, north west of Manila, a concrete wall collapsed and killed a 62-year-old woman and injured her husband.
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.
Three fishermen were reported missing in northern Bataan province, along with three other men in Aurora’s Baler town, according to the Office of Civil Defence.
President Benigno Aquino III and disaster-response agencies have warned that Koppu’s rain and winds may potentially bring more damage with its slow speed. But Mr Saludes, the government forecaster, said there was less heavy rain than expected initially in some areas, including in Manila, but fierce winds lashed many regions.
A wayward barge carrying coal and 10 crew drifted dangerously close to a breakwater and marina in Manila Bay. A tugboat positioned to prevent the barge from drifting away.
Koppu, Japanese for “cup,” is the 12th storm to hit the Philippines this year. An average of 20 storms and typhoon each year batter the archipelago, one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most ferocious storms on record to hit land, barrelled through the central Philippines, levelling entire towns and leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing.
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