Manila counts the cost of killer typhoon
TYPHOON Rammasun, the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year, was heading north-west towards China after cutting a path across the main island of Luzon, shutting down the capital and knocking down trees and power lines, causing widespread blackouts.
The Philippines set to work clearing debris, reconnecting power and rebuilding flattened houses yesterday after the storm swept across the country killing at least 40 people, with at least eight still missing, rescue officials said.
The typhoon destroyed 7,000 houses and damaged 19,000, said the executive director of the National Disaster Agency, Alexander Pama. According to official figures, more than 530,000 people had taken refuge in evacuation centres.
Mr Pama put the damage to crops, mostly rice and corn, from the Bicol region, south-east of Manila, at around 668 million pesos (S$19 million).
Most schools remained closed in the capital and southern Luzon, the most densely populated part of the country with 17 million people. Power had been restored to just over half of the Luzon grid, a transmission agency official said.
Electricity distributor Manila Electric Co said a third of its 1.88 million customers were without power.
Disaster officials were assessing damage but the coconut-growing Quezon province south of Manila appears to have borne the brunt of Rammasun, which intensified into a Category 3 typhoon as it crossed the country.
The cyclone is expected to make landfall in China around midday today somewhere between the island of Hainan and the southern province of Guangdong, the Hainan government said on its website, adding that fishing boats had returned to port.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs has already put the local authorities on alert across a swathe of southern and south-western China to deal with expected damage, especially as torrential rain across a large part of southern China killed 34 in the last week.
Tropical Storm Risk, which monitors cyclones, downgraded Rammasun to a Category 1 storm on a scale of one to five.
But it predicted it would gain in strength to Category 2 within 24 hours, picking up energy from the warm sea.