Typhoon Melor Tears through Central Philippines
MANILA – Typhoon Melor has ripped through the central Philippines, bringing heavy rain and strong winds that left at least four people dead and millions without power, officials say.
Three people were killed in floods in Northern Samar province in the Visayas region, municipal disaster officer Jonathan Baldo said.
Flying debris also killed a man in Northern Samar, national disaster agency spokeswoman Mina Marasigan told AFP, without being able to confirm the other three deaths.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Melor, known locally as Nona, toppled trees and cut electricity to at least seven provinces.
Christmas lanterns and lights, tin roofs and branches littered the streets of Legazpi City, which was battered by strong winds.
People who fled from their coastal homes spent a sleepless night in evacuation centres, sprawled on classroom tables and chairs as flying debris swirled around outside.
Melor whipped the vast Bicol peninsula, with a population of 5.4 million people, overnight before slamming into the Romblon islands on Tuesday morning.
Gusts had weakened somewhat but were still recorded at 170 kilometres per hour, down from 185 kilometres per hour on Monday.
There were no immediate reports of casualties in the typhoon-prone Bicol region, where 720,000 people were evacuated.
“We have zero floods, zero deaths, zero casualties,” Albay governor Joey Salceda told ABS-CBN television.
“What we are asking for is the early restoration of electricity,” he said, adding the entire province of 1.2 million people was without power.
NDRRMC spokeswoman Mina Marasigan said authorities were assessing Melor’s damage while bracing for another typhoon brewing east of Mindanao.
Bad weather forced the cancellation of 16 domestic flights on Tuesday, adding to the 56 flights cancelled on Monday, the NDRRMC said.
The storm was expected to weaken further as it heads to Mindoro island and out into the South China Sea later on Tuesday, state weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons a year, many of them deadly, with the strongest happening towards the end of the year.
The last deadly storm to hit the country this year, Koppu, killed 54 people and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes after it pummelled rice-growing northern provinces in October.
In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan flattened entire communities in the central region with tsunami-like waves, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing.
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