At least four people have been confirmed dead after a massive typhoon packing winds of 155km/h lashed the Philippines, forcing almost half-a-million residents to take refuge in evacuation centres.
Residents are bracing for floods, landslides and storm surges as Kammuri, the 20th typhoon to hit the country this year, brought violent winds and intense rainfall in several provinces in the hard-hit Bicol region on Tuesday.
Police said a 33-year-old man died after he was electrocuted while fixing the battered roof of his house while a second man, 59, was crushed to death by a tree that fell as he cleared debris.
Another man, 38, who was riding his motorcycle home died when branches of a tree fell on him. A fourth man perished after being hit by a tin roof.
“There could have been more if we did not do pre-emptive evacuations,” Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito told reporters.
More than 490 flights from Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia were canceled, affecting an estimated 100,000 passengers.
An additional 7000 people had their plans disrupted after the Philippine Coast Guard suspended sea travel in the north-east.
Meanwhile, in Manilla, government offices and schools shut their doors and households were warned their power would be cut as Kammuri edged closer.
“Agencies whose functions involve the delivery of basic and health services, preparedness/response to disasters and calamities, and/or the performance of other vital services shall continue with their operations and render the necessary services,” according to the government’s executive secretary Salvador Medialdea.
The nation’s weather bureau reported maximum winds of 155kmh and gusts of up to 200km/h, shutting off electricity to 10 areas in Luzon.
“We were beaten by the typhoon,” said Governor Francis Escudero of Sorsogon province, where Kammuri made its first landfall on Monday night.
“Many of our trees and electric posts were downed. I was in Gubat and Prieto Diaz (towns), the typhoon was really strong.”
Kammuri weakened after making three more landfalls on Tuesday as it moved to the country’s western coast near Manila, the weather bureau said.
More than 483,000 people were forced to flee their homes in Bicol and nearby provinces, police reports added.
In Legazpi City in Albay province, the airport was damaged, with its ceiling and walls torn off by Kammuri’s fierce winds, and glass panels shattering from the storm, said provincial Governor Al Francis Bichara.
“The terminal’s ceiling gave in, debris fell on the x-ray machine,” he said. “We’re hoping that the airport’s navigational facilities were not damaged.”