Typhoon kills 12 in Philippines, spares Manila
JIM GOMEZ and OLIVER TEVES, Associated Press
MANILA, Philippines (AP) â?? A typhoon roared through the Philippines, killing at least 12 people, knocking out power in many areas and damaging a parked jetliner, but the country's sprawling capital was largely spared when the storm's fierce winds shifted direction, officials said.
Typhoon Rammasun's winds of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 185 kph (115 mph) brought down trees and electric posts and ripped off roofs across Manila, the capital of 12 million people, shutting government offices and schools. More than 370,000 people moved from high-risk villages to emergency shelters in six of the nation's provinces.
The storm weakened before blowing out of the country later Wednesday, heading toward northern Vietnam or China's Hainan Island, forecaster Jori Loiz said. He said it could regain strength while crossing the South China Sea.
In a shantytown at the edge of Manila Bay, hundreds of people fled when strong winds tore tin roofs. Most were drenched before they reached an evacuation center with the help of emergency workers.
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said he was relieved there were no reported deaths after the typhoon sideswiped his city, although its winds still downed trees and damaged seaside shanties, prompting more than 1,000 residents to evacuate.
"It was like a drill," he said. "We hauled people away from dangerous seaside areas, whether they liked it or not."
Officials reported at least 12 deaths elsewhere, mostly people pinned by falling trees and electrical posts. A fire volunteer died when he was hit by a block of concrete while hauling down a Philippine flag in suburban Pasig city, said Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
At Manila's international airport, the left wing of a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 was damaged after strong gusts pushed it against a bridge passageway, said manager Angel Honrado. No one was injured.
Three fishermen were reported missing in Catanduanes, near Albay province, where Rammasun made landfall late Tuesday.
There were no immediate estimates of the damage in communities that lost power and telephone connections while being pummeled by the wind and rain.
With last year's massive devastation and deaths from Typhoon Haiyan still on the minds of many, officials said people readily evacuated after being told of the danger.
Polangui Mayor Cherilie Mella Sampal said 10,000 of the 80,000 residents in Albay town, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, left homes before the typhoon struck Tuesday. Sampal said she saw winds topple electric posts and lift roofs off houses.
She said residents were worried after witnessing Haiyan's horrific aftermath in the central Philippines last November. At least 6,300 people died and more than 1,000 were left missing from that storm.
"We're used to and prepared for calamities," Sampal said. "But when people heard that the eye of the typhoon will hit the province, they feared we may end up like the victims" of Haiyan.
Rammasun, the Thai term for god of thunder, is the seventh storm to batter the Philippines this year. About 20 typhoons and storms lash the archipelago on the western edge of the Pacific each year, making it one of the world's most disaster-prone countries.
Associated Press writer Teresa Cerojano contributed to this report.
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