Manila enters lockdown as Super Typhoon Noru makes landfall

Residents carrying their family pets to an evacuation centre amid heavy rain brought by Typhoon Noru in Marikina city, on Sept 25, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
Typhoon Noru made its first landfall at around 5.30pm in Burdeos town on Polillo island, on Sept 25, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
People arriving at an evacuation centre in Baseco, Manila, as Typhoon Noru approaches the Philippines, on Sept 25, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
Children taking shelter in an evacuation centre in Manila on Sept 25, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
A village officer talking to residents near a creek as Super Typhoon Noru made landfall, in Quezon City, Manila, on Sept 25, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
A man holding on to his umbrella in Baseco, Manila, as Typhoon Noru approaches, on Sept 25, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
Members of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office prepare rubber boats and life vests in Quezon City on Sept 25, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
Typhoon Noru will continue to intensify and may make landfall with 185kmh to 205kmh of sustained winds. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA - The Philippines’ sprawling capital went into lockdown on Sunday as a super typhoon tore across the main island of Luzon, bringing hurricane-force winds and dumping heavy rain bound to cause deadly storm surges and landslides. 

Noru – known locally as Karding – made its first landfall at around 5.30pm in Burdeos town on Polillo island, 100km east of Manila, with 195kmh winds, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane. 

In a Category 3 hurricane, winds range from 179kmh to 208kmh, with a high risk of injury or death to people, livestock and pets from flying and falling debris.  Electricity and water will also likely be unavailable for several days to a few weeks after the storm.

Noru – the 11th and strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines so far in 2022 – slightly weakened as it made landfall again at around 8.20pm in Dingalan town, in Aurora province on the eastern part of Luzon. 

It then tore through Luzon overnight, dumping torrential rain on Metro Manila, a metropolis of 16 cities. Luzon is home to half the Philippines’ population of some 110 million. 

Images on social media showed tree trunks and other debris littered along roads at a town in Polillo island hit early in the day as Noru made its way towards land.

“Coconut trees were swaying while banana plants were brought down,” Polillo mayor  Angelique Bosque  told radio station DZRH.

Many areas in central Luzon were placed on the highest typhoon alert level of five. In Metro Manila, it was at four. 

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr ordered all schools and offices in Metro Manila and seven other regions to shut from Monday. 

Evacuations were ordered in districts along coastlines, rivers and low-lying areas. Millions more living along Noru’s path were told to shelter at home. Flood alerts were issued in key cities in Metro Manila that lie along three river systems. 

Airlines cancelled flights, and all affected ports and rail lines were shut. 

Several malls in Manila closed early, and offered temporary shelters and free overnight parking and charging stations. 

Weather forecasters said Noru would continue dumping heavy rain till Monday. “Widespread flooding and rain-induced landslides are expected,” they added. 

Ms Rhea Tan, 54, a restaurant manager in Dingalan town, in Aurora province, opted not to evacuate.

“We live away from the coast, so we’re staying put so far. We’re more worried about the water from the mountains,” she told AFP.

The typhoon is expected to weaken late on Monday before heading towards Vietnam. 

The Philippines – ranked among the nations most vulnerable to the impact of climate change – is hit by an average of 20 typhoons each year. In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan left at least 6,000 dead. 

Noru, though, is following the pattern of Typhoon Ketsana, which in 2009 triggered floods in nearly a third of Metro Manila. Hundreds died as rivers broke their banks and swept away entire neighbourhoods.  

The Department of Agriculture said on Sunday that farmland affected could reach 1.47 million ha, where 75 per cent of the nation’s standing rice crops are planted, and this risks fanning inflation.

Rice farmer Felix Pangibitan in Quezon province said on Facebook: “What a waste if the typhoon destroys my rice fields. I’m taking a video because I’m not sure what would happen tomorrow. Whatever happens is the Lord’s will. But how sad it is to be a farmer.” 

- Additional reporting by Mara Cepeda in Singapore

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