Dark Christmas for some Filipinos
TATTERED lanterns, festive lights and tin roofs littered towns in the central Philippines yesterday after Typhoon Melor swept through, killing at least four people and leaving millions without power ahead of Christmas.
"It will be a very sad Christmas and a dark one because we have no power," 54-year-old rice farmer Noemi Pesigan told Agence France-Presse.
Melor blew out the windows of Ms Pesigan's house in Bulan, a small farming town in Luzon island's Sorsogan province and about 350km south-east of Manila.
The typhoon tore in from the Pacific Ocean on Monday afternoon and hit farming and fishing communities in the eastern Philippines with winds of up to 185kmh.
Three people were killed in floods in Samar island's Northern Samar province, which faces the Pacific, municipal disaster officer Jonathan Baldo told DZMM radio.
Flying debris also killed a man in Northern Samar, national disaster agency spokesman Mina Marasigan told AFP.
Power services in six central provinces were disrupted and emergency teams were assessing damage to agriculture and infrastructure, Reuters quoted Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, as saying.
According to the council, a total of 162,729 families or 733,150 people had been evacuated before the typhoon hit.
Schools and some offices were closed. Dozens of domestic flights and ferry services were cancelled, and the fishing fleet took shelter due to waves as high as 14m.
Melor weakened slightly as it cut across the central islands, but yesterday afternoon its wind gusts were still reaching 170kmh as it passed over the island of Mindoro.
It was expected to weaken further and move out into the South China Sea by last evening.
In Bicol, the vast region in the east including south-eastern Luzon, the authorities credited the early evacuation for what they believed would be a low death toll.
"We have zero floods, zero deaths, zero casualties," Joey Salceda, governor of Albay province in Bicol, told ABS-CBN television.
But he said the entire province of 1.2 million people was without power.
Another potential tropical system will hit the southern Philippines later this week, United States-based weather provider AccuTeather said.
An average of 20 typhoons pass through the Philippines every year.