Typhoon slams ashore as millions travel for holiday
MANILA, Philippines – A typhoon battered the Philippine capital and surrounding provinces still reeling from recent flooding, killing at least 14 people and sending residents of one town clambering onto rooftops to escape rising waters, officials said today.
Typhoon Mirinae was the fourth storm to lash the northern Philippines since late September and brought new hardship to areas still struggling in the wake of the previous disasters. Nearly 95,000 people who fled during two prior storms were still living in temporary shelters when Mirinae struck Saturday, the national disaster agency said.
The storm headed out to sea and was swirling 279 miles southwest of Manila early this morning but could still bring rains and thunderstorms to western Palawan province, forecasters said.
As Mirinae slammed into Quezon province northeast of Manila around midnight Friday, Philippine authorities evacuated more than 115,000 people in nine provinces east and south of the capital in the storm’s path on main Luzon island, the National Disaster Coordinating Council reported. At its height, its winds were blowing 93 miles per hour and gusting up to 115 mph.
One river in Laguna province, south of Manila, overflowed, washing away a bridge and flooding most of lakeside Santa Cruz town. Residents clambered onto roofs to escape the waters, said Mayor Ariel Magcalas.
The muddy floodwater receded as rains eased later in the day, but was still chest-high in some communities.
Ahead of Saturday’s typhoon, millions of Filipinos had boarded buses for their home provinces for the Nov. 1 All Saints Day holiday, when people visit cemeteries to pay respects to dead relatives in this devoutly Roman Catholic nation.
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro expressed fear that floods and traffic congestion may trap visitors at graveyards, where people traditionally spend a day or even a night, but few heeded his call to scrap this year’s commemorations. Radio stations reported that large crowds converged on cemeteries even in flooded areas. Carrying candles, food and rain gear, many settled in for an overnight vigil.