Manila, Jul 16 (AP): Typhoon Rammasun left at least seven people dead and knocked out power in many areas but it spared the Philippine capital, Manila, and densely populated northern provinces from being directly battered today when its fierce wind shifted slightly away, officials said.
Still, the typhoon’s 150-kilometre wind and blinding 185-kph gusts, brought down trees, electric posts and ripped off roofs across the capital of 12 million people where government offices and schools were closed. More than 370,000 people moved from high-risk villages to emergency shelters in six provinces.
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 after the typhoon sideswiped his city although its wind 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.”
Elsewhere, a woman died after being hit by a fallen electric post in Northern Samar province and two men, including one travelling on a motorcycle, were separately pinned to death by falling trees in two other provinces. Three members of a family were killed when a wall collapsed on them in Lucena city, southeast of Manila and an 11-month-old boy died after being hit by a wall in a house in Cavite province near the capital, officials said.
Three fishermen have been reported missing in Catanduanes, near Albay province, where Rammasun made landfall late yesterday.
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 in many people’s mind, officials said 373,000 people readily evacuated after being told of the danger.