Deadly Typhoon Rammasun sets sights on China after shutting down Manila

Typhoon Rammasun kills 10 on way across Philippines but misses Manila

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 6:55pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 9:36am

A powerful typhoon is heading towards China after leaving at least 10 people dead and knocking out power in many areas of the Philippines, but sparing the capital and densely populated northern provinces a direct hit.

Still, Typhoon Rammasun's 150km/h winds and blinding 185km/h gusts yesterday brought down trees and electricity poles and ripped off roofs across Manila, where government offices and schools were closed. More than 370,000 people moved from high-risk villages to emergency shelters in six provinces.

Watch: Typhoon shuts down Philippine capital

In a shantytown at the edge of Manila Bay, hundreds fled when strong wind tore tin roofs off their shanties. Most were drenched by the rain before they reached an evacuation centre with the help of firemen and rescue personnel.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said he was relieved there were no reported deaths in the city of 12 million people after the typhoon sideswiped his city.

"It was like a drill," he said. "We hauled people away from dangerous seaside areas, whether they liked it or not."

Parts of the Philippines are still recovering from Super Typhoon Haiyan in November, one of the biggest cyclones known to have made landfall anywhere. It killed more than 6,100 people in the central provinces, many in tsunami-like sea surges, and left millions homeless.

Tropical Storm Risk, which monitors cyclones, downgraded Rammasun to a category-one storm on a scale of one to five as it headed northwest into the South China Sea. Haiyan was category five. A category-one storm has sustained winds of up to 153km/h.

But it predicted Rammasun would gain in strength to a category-three storm within a couple of days, picking up energy from the warm sea as it heads for Hainan in China.

More than 370,000 had been evacuated, mostly in the eastern province of Albay, the first to be hit by the storm, the agency said.

More than half of Luzon was without power, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said. Manila Electric Company - the country's biggest power utility, exclusively supplying the capital - said about 86 per cent of its customers were without electricity.

Rhea Catada, who works for charity Oxfam in Tacloban, which suffered the brunt of Haiyan, said thousands of people in tents and coastal villages had been evacuated.

"They are scared because their experiences during Haiyan last year are still fresh," she said. "Now they are evacuating voluntarily and leaving behind their belongings."

Nearly 400 flights were grounded during a four-hour closure of Manila airport. Two airliners suffered minor damage when gusts blew them into nearby obstacles, airport officials said.

Ferry services were to resume later yesterday, including to Boracay Island, where 300 tourists were stranded.

Schools, public offices and financial markets will reopen today.

Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg