Filipinos take cover as Megi roars on
Typhoon blamed for 10 deaths
CAUAYAN, Philippines — Super Typhoon Megi dumped heavy rains over the Philippine capital as it departed today after killing 10 people, creating a wasteland of fallen trees in the north and sending thousands scrambling to safety in near-zero visibility.
The strongest cyclone to buffet the country in years slammed into the northern Philippines yesterday and was forecast to regain strength over the South China Sea today as it headed toward China and Vietnam, where recent floods unrelated to the storm already have caused 30 deaths.
Surging currents on Vietnam’s flooded main highway yesterday swept away a bus and 20 of its passengers, including a boy pulled from his mother’s grasp. In China, authorities evacuated 140,000 people from a coastal province ahead of the typhoon, which Chinese officials said could hit the southern coast as early as midnight. Heavy rains have already lashed Hainan.
Megi packed sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and gusts of 162 miles per hour as it made landfall in the northern province of Isabela, felling trees and utility poles and cutting off power, phone, and Internet services. Its ferocious winds slightly weakened while crossing the mountains of the Philippines’ main northern island of Luzon.
Blowing over the open sea today, the typhoon’s massive outer bands still stretched over much of western Luzon and drenched the capital, Manila, and surrounding areas, snarling traffic and sending about 1,000 people out of their homes into temporary shelters.
In Isabela Province, about 200 miles northeast of the capital, more than 4,150 people rode out the typhoon in sturdy school buildings, town halls, churches, and relatives’ homes. Roads in and out of the coastal province were deserted and blocked by collapsed trees, power lines, and debris.
At least 10 deaths were attributed to the typhoon, including three men who drowned in a fish pond where the storm made landfall and a man who rescued his water buffalo, then slipped and fell into a river in Cagayan Province, near Isabela. A woman was killed when a tamarind tree crushed her house and injured her child in Kalinga Province, and a security guard died after being struck by a pine tree in nearby Baguio city, officials said.
In Pangasinan Province, a mother and her 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son died when a tree collapsed on their house, regional disaster official Eugene Cabrera said. Another man was killed by lightning in the same province.
At least nine were injured in the region by falling trees, collapsed roofs, and shattered glass, officials said.
There was near-zero visibility when the storm crashed ashore, and radio reports said the wind was so powerful it made it difficult to walk. Ships and fishing vessels were told to stay in ports, and several flights were canceled.
All of Isabela Province lost power, along with 16 of Cagayan’s 28 towns. Cagayan’s governor, Alvaro Antonio, said the wind was fierce but apparently did no damage to many ricefields ready for harvesting.
In July, a storm killed more than 100 people in Manila and outlying provinces. This time, the capital avoided a direct hit, and preparations in the north included evacuations and the positioning of emergency relief.