Philippines braces for more devastation amid new typhoon

from Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published on 01 Dec 2004
Manila (dpa) - A powerful typhoon slammed into the Philippines' eastern coast on Thursday as rescuers struggled to reach areas devastated by landslides and flashfloods that have left more than 400 people dead and 300 others missing.
Electricity was cut off in the provinces of Catanduanes and Albay as typhoon Nanmadol, packing maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometres an hour and gusts of up to 220 kilometres an hour, spawned strong winds and heavy rains.

School classes and several commercial flights were cancelled on the main island of Luzon, including Manila, which were expected to feel the impact of Nanmadol later in the day, while the government suspended work in the afternoon.

Ferry services out of the eastern Bicol region and Manila were also suspended, stranding hundreds of passengers.

"Residents in areas to be affected by Nanmadol must evacuate now,'' said Neri Amparo, chief of operations of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). "The typhoon has a radius of 800 kilometres, and many will be affected.''

Amparo said the NDCC was dispatching more teams carrying relief goods to provinces already devastated by landslides and flashfloods caused by a tropical depression on Monday.

The landslides and flashfloods killed 399 people in the hard-hit towns of Real, General Nakar and Infanta in Quezon province, 75 kilometres north of Manila, while 48 others died in other provinces in Luzon.

As Nanmadol threatened to dump more rains on Quezon, survivors fled to safer grounds on foot, while soldiers and volunteers continued to clear roads from debris of mud, coconut trees and logs to reach isolated areas.

Some residents of remote villages called television and radio stations to seek help.

"Please let the authorities know where we are,'' said Tessie Munar, who was with seven other people in the village of Gumian in Infanta. ''We are afraid that we will be caught in the typhoon. Please help us. Tell them not to forget us.''

Munar, owner of a resort in Infanta, said her husband, brother and son were killed in a landslide, but their bodies have not yet been retrieved.

Rescuers have not yet reached the town of Infanta, but officials said teams were already on their way.

Mario Naniola, leader of a team of volunteers, said relief supplies were running out in Real town, where a building being used as an evacuation centre collapsed due to landslides.

"There's almost nothing to eat,'' he said. ''We brought in what we can, but the supplies have already depleted. There were so many displaced residents on the road, and the dead littered the way. It was a grim sight.''

Naniola and his team were already on their way out of Real to avoid being caught in the new typhoon.

"There was not much more we could do there,'' he said. ''Retrieving the dead bodies was very difficult. Everytime we shoveled the ground, more debris came down.''

The weather bureau said Nanmadol's eye was expected to strike the nearby province of Aurora late Thursday. The typhoon was forecast to cut through the north of Luzon overnight, before exiting to the South China by Saturday. dpa gl jg pw

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