Typhoon Koppu slammed into the northern Philippines on Sunday, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes amid heavy rains and strong winds that could last up to three days.
Koppu weakened slightly as it made landfall over Casiguran town in Aurora province, 215 kilometres north of Manila, but “has remained almost stationary”, the weather bureau said.
The typhoon was packing maximum winds of 150 kilometres per hour with gusts of up to 185km/h. The bureau raised storm signal warnings over 26 provinces and Manila.
“There is still danger so we should not put our guard down,” chief weather forecaster Esperanza Cayanan said. “We should still be careful. Coastal areas are still dangerous and it is not safe for small boats to go out to sea.”
Koppu toppled trees and ripped off rooftops, while more than 14 000 people evacuated their homes amid warnings of flash floods and storm surges up to 3 metres.
Electricity out, rivers overflow, flights cancelled
Dozens of domestic flights were cancelled, and sea travel was suspended due to choppy seas, stranding more than 5,000 passengers, the disaster relief agency said.
The entire province of Aurora and some parts of other northern provinces were without electricity, and communication lines were also poor, said Alexander Pama, head of the agency.
“Some rivers have overflowed and several roads and bridges are now impassable due to landslides and floods,” he said.
Television footage showed chest-deep, brown water submerging some towns of Aurora. Emergency workers held on to ropes attached to vehicles as they rescued residents trapped in their homes.
In Baler town, 31 patients were evacuated from a hospital after its roofs were blown away by Koppu’s winds.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 cyclones every year, causing floods, landslides and other accidents.
The strongest typhoon hit the country in November 2013, killing more than 6 300 people. Typhoon Haiyan also displaced more than 4 million people after it wiped out entire villages in the central Philippines.