Typhoon Haima leaves five dead in Philippines

  • 20/10/2016
Government workers cut branches of an uprooted tree after Typhoon Haima struck Laoag city, Ilocos Norte in northern Philippines (Reuters)
Government workers cut branches of an uprooted tree after Typhoon Haima struck Laoag city, Ilocos Norte in northern Philippines (Reuters)

Typhoon Haima has weakened and blown out to sea after smashing the northern Philippines with ferocious wind and rain, leaving at least seven dead.

Flooding, landslides and power outages are evident but large casualties have apparently been averted after nearly 100,000 people fled to safer ground.

Haima's blinding winds and rain had rekindled fears of the catastrophe wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 but there were no immediate reports of any major damage on Thursday.

Several villages are cut off by fallen trees, landslides and floods, impeding communications and aid.

Although storms are a part of life in the country's north, many villagers were still horrified by Haima's fury.

"In my age, I'm 60 years old, this is the strongest typhoon I have ever seen," village councillor Willie Cabalteja told The Associated Press in Vigan city in Ilocos Sur province.

"We haven't slept. Trees were forced down, houses lost their roofs and fences and metal sheets were flying around all night."

At least seven people were killed in the storm, officials said but the evacuations from high-risk communities helped prevent a larger number of casualties.

Two construction workers died when a landslide buried their shanty in La Trinidad town in the mountain province of Benguet, officials said, while two villagers perished in another landslide and another was swept away in a river and remains missing in Ifugao province, near Benguet.

A 70-year-old man died apparently of a heart attack in an emergency shelter while another man died after being pinned by a fallen tree in Isabela province.

One other typhoon-related death was reported in northern Ilocos region but details were not immediately available.

Haima, with sustained winds of 225 kilometres per hour, hit northeastern Cagayan province late on Wednesday then barrelled northwestward before blowing out into the South China Sea with sustained winds of 150 km/h and gusts of up to 185 km/h, according to forecasters.

Although weakening, the typhoon was expected to blow toward China, Filipino forecasters said.

After dawn, the extent of damage in Cagayan - about 500 km north of Manila - and nearby regions became evident, with overturned vans, toppled or leaning electric posts and debris blocking roads. Most stores, their window panes shattered and canopies shredded by the wind, were close.

In northern Ilocos Sur province, rice fields resembled brown lakes under waist-high floodwaters, although clean-up operations had started.