MANILA (AFP) – Typhoon Sarika lashed the main Philippine island of Luzon on Sunday (Oct 16), ripping off roofs, toppling power pylons and forcing more than 12,000 people to flee to safer ground, officials said.
Minor landslides and flooding were also reported a day after the cyclone brushed past a remote island and left one person drowned and three others missing, they said.
“The roofs of some house were blown away and power was cut in some areas,” Mina Marasigan, spokesman for the government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told AFP.
However, she said it was too early to say if Luzon had escaped any casualties, with local governments still assessing the extent of the damage in their areas.
Government crews and utility workers immediately went to work clearing roads buried by landslides, toppled trees and posts and other debris while some towns began sending people in shelters back to their homes as the danger passed, officials said.
Sarika swept out into the South China Sea early afternoon after dumping heavy rain across a broad section of the island, the state weather service said.
The typhoon had struck Luzon’s mountainous east coast 11 hours earlier.
However, the weather service warned the nation to brace for a second storm, with Typhoon Haima expected to strike the same area as early as Thursday.
The disaster agency said nearly 12,500 people had left their homes shortly before Sarika struck, seeking refuge in government-run shelters and relatives’ homes.
Eleven people were rescued after a boat capsized off the eastern island of Samar on Friday, while about 1,000 boats and 6,500 passengers were stranded at ports as the coast guard barred smaller vessels from putting to sea.
The disaster agency said 290 commercial flights, including 63 to international destinations, were cancelled due to bad weather.
Eighty-four climbers were also rescued from three Philippine mountains in the typhoon’s path, it added.
The Philippine islands are often the first major landmass to be hit by storms that generate over the Pacific Ocean. The South-east Asian archipelago endures about 20 major storms each year, many of them deadly.
Haiyan, the strongest typhoon ever recorded to hit land, smashed into the central Philippines on November 8, 2013, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing.