Typhoon leaves millions without power in Philippines

Villagers surveying the devastation in the coastal village of Pigcale after Typhoon Melor swept through Legazpi city, in the Philippines' Albay province, yesterday. Four people were killed and millions were left without power after the typhoon barrel
Villagers surveying the devastation in the coastal village of Pigcale after Typhoon Melor swept through Legazpi city, in the Philippines' Albay province, yesterday. Four people were killed and millions were left without power after the typhoon barrelled into the coconut-growing region, causing flooding and storm surges, and forcing almost 800,000 people to evacuate their homes. Melor tore in from the Pacific Ocean on Monday afternoon with wind gusts of up to 185kmh. It was expected to weaken and move out into the South China Sea. PHOTO: REUTERS
Above: Residents surveying the damage wrought by Typhoon Melor yesterday after it battered the town of Barcelona, in Sorsogon province in the central Philippines. Right: Workers clearing a fallen electric post in Castilla, Sorsogon province. Cold nor
Residents surveying the damage wrought by Typhoon Melor yesterday after it battered the town of Barcelona, in Sorsogon province in the central Philippines. PHOTO: REUTERS
Above: Residents surveying the damage wrought by Typhoon Melor yesterday after it battered the town of Barcelona, in Sorsogon province in the central Philippines. Right: Workers clearing a fallen electric post in Castilla, Sorsogon province. Cold nor
Workers clearing a fallen electric post in Castilla, Sorsogon province. Cold north-east monsoon winds are expected to weaken the typhoon this morning. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Above: Residents surveying the damage wrought by Typhoon Melor yesterday after it battered the town of Barcelona, in Sorsogon province in the central Philippines. Right: Workers clearing a fallen electric post in Castilla, Sorsogon province. Cold nor
People taking shelter in Pasay city, south of Manila. In one of the largest evacuations in the Philippines' recent history, nearly 800,000 left their homes.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

MANILA • Powerful Typhoon Melor killed at least four people and left millions without power ahead of Christmas as it swept through the central Philippines yesterday.

In one of the largest mass evacuations in the country's recent history, almost 800,000 people left their homes, and dozens of domestic flights and ferry services were cancelled.

Tin roofs and festive lights littered towns yesterday and distraught residents surveyed their damaged homes on the eve of the traditional nine-day Christmas vigil that Filipinos observe with dawn masses and rice cakes.

"It will be a very sad Christmas and a dark one because we have no power. But the important thing is everyone around me is still moving," said 54-year-old rice farmer Noemi Pesigan in Bulan, a small farming town about 350km south-east of Manila.

Packing winds of 140kmh, the typhoon tore in off the Pacific Ocean on Monday afternoon and hit farming and fishing communities in the eastern Philippines.

A SAD, DARK CHRISTMAS

It will be a very sad Christmas and a dark one because we have no power. But the important thing is everyone around me is still moving.

RICE FARMER NOEMI PESIGAN, 54, in Bulan, a small farming town about 350km south-east of Manila

Three people were killed in floods in northern Samar province, which faces the Pacific, municipal disaster officer Jonathan Baldo told DZMM radio. Flying debris also killed a man in northern Samar, national disaster agency spokesman Mina Marasigan said.

Mr Richard Gordon, the chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said the small town of Catarman, in northern Samar, appeared to have been the hardest hit by Melor. The area was without power, water and cellphone communications.

In Bicol, a vast region in the east often hit by typhoons, the authorities credited the early evacuation of 720,000 people for what they believed would be a low death toll. "We have zero floods, zero deaths, zero casualties," Mr Joey Salceda, governor of Albay province in Bicol, told ABS-CBN television. But he said the entire province of 1.2 million people was without power.

Melor weakened slightly as it cut across the central islands but wind gusts were still reaching 170kmh as it passed over Mindoro on its way out into the South China Sea.

Cold north-east monsoon winds are expected to weaken the typhoon this morning into a severe tropical storm, then into a tropical depression tomorrow.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2015, with the headline 'Typhoon leaves millions without power in Philippines'. Print Edition | Subscribe