Three killed as typhoon pounds Philippines

THE strongest typhoon in years to crash into the Philippines killed at least three people yesterday, leaving a wasteland of fallen trees and power poles and sending thousands scampering to safety in near-zero visibility.

A retired general said bracing for the onslaught was like preparing for war.

Super Typhoon Megi, blowing across the northern Philippines, was forecast next to head toward China and Vietnam, where floods unrelated to the storm have caused 30 deaths.

Yesterday, strong currents on Vietnam’s flooded main highway swept away a bus and 20 of its passengers, including a boy pulled from his mother’s grasp.

In China, authorities evacuated 140,000 people from a coastal province ahead of the typhoon.

Megi packed sustained winds of 225 kilometres per hour and gusts of 260km/h as it made landfall at Palanan Bay in Isabela province, felling trees and utility poles and cutting off power, phone and Internet services.

Its ferocious wind slightly weakened while crossing the mountains of the Philippines’ main northern island of Luzon.

With more than 4,150 Filipinos riding out the typhoon in sturdy school buildings, town halls, churches and relatives’ homes, roads in and out of coastal Isabela province, were deserted and blocked by collapsed trees, power lines and debris.

One man who had just rescued his water buffalo slipped and fell into a river and drowned in Cagayan province, near Isabela. A woman was pinned to death when a tamarind tree crushed her house and injured her child in Kalinga province, and a security guard died after being struck by a pine tree in nearby Baguio city, officials said.

At least six were injured in the region by falling trees, collapsed roof and shattered glass, officials said.

As it crashed ashore, the typhoon whipped up huge waves. There was near-zero visibility and radio reports said the wind was so powerful that people could not take more than a step at a time.

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