Thousands flee as Typhoon Koppu slams into the Philippines | News | DW | 18.10.2015
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Thousands flee as Typhoon Koppu slams into the Philippines

The powerful storm has made landfall over the northern Philippines, wrecking houses and unleashing landslides and floods. At least eight people have been reported missing and about 15,000 residents evacuated.

Typhoon Koppu, known locally as Lando, arrived early on Sunday, hitting the Philippines' most populous island of Luzon with winds of over 250 kilometers per hour (155 miles per hour).

Forecasters warned that the slow-moving storm could cause substantial damage, with the heavy rains and strong winds lasting for up to three days.

Koppu toppled trees, ripped off rooftops and left several villages cut off in the province of Aurora. Power and communication lines were cut across much of the region.

Death toll rising

At least eight people were reported missing in the neighboring province of Nueva Ecija. Local residents spotted two bodies floating in nearby floodwaters. More than 15,000 residents were evacuated from their homes.

Aid agencies said they were on standby to provide emergency support, amid fears that several million people may need relief supplies.

The Philippines' Meteorological Office (PAGASA) used social media to keep communities updated of the typhoon's progress. "Typhoon Lando has made landfall over (the coastal city of) Casiguran, Aurora and has remained almost stationary," the agency announced on Sunday.

PAGASA Director Espie Cayanan said another typhoon farther east and a high-pressure area north of the Philippines would hold Lando in a "semi-stationary" position over northern Luzon.

"We would like to stress that Lando is not like the usual typhoons (that take only) a day to cross (the Philippines). Based on forecasts, this will possibly last until Tuesday," said Alexander Pama, chief of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Forecaster AccuWeather said Lando could bring 300 and 600 millimeters of rain to the rice-growing Luzon and cause flooding and mudslides.

Although it has missed a direct hit on metropolitan Manila, the typhoon has a diameter of 600 kilometers. As a result, even southern regions are likely to be affected by strong winds and rain.

President Aquino alarmed

The winds pose "very heavy damage" to high-risk structures and "heavy damage" to medium-risk structures, according to PAGASA.

Waves as high as 14 meters could occur at sea and all vessels have been banned from sailing in the region, leaving 4,000 travelers stranded in ports in Luzon and the Visayas.

About 20 typhoons and storms hit the Philippines every year. But authorities have emphasized that this typhoon was particularly dangerous.

For the first time since 2013 when super typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippines, President Benigno Aquino went on television on Friday to warn that the typhoon could be uniquely destructive because of its slow progress.

jm,mm/bk,se (AFP, Reuters)

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