Thousands evacuated as ‘Rosita’ pummels Luzon
MANILA — Typhoon “Rosita” (international name: Yutu) on Tuesday slammed into the country with fierce winds that sheared off roofs and snapped trees in half, after thousands were evacuated ahead of the powerful storm’s arrival.
Cutting a path just south of last month’s Typhoon “Ompong” (international name: Mangkhut), which killed dozens, the new storm tore across the country’s most populous island and dumped heavy rains along the way.
Search crews were just beginning to assess the damage wrought by Rosita, which made landfall early Tuesday with sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness up to 210 kph.
Authorities said they were verifying reports of one person missing after a boat capsized as the storm was barrelling toward the disaster-prone nation.
“We see some branches on the roads and so on, but it is the flooding that is destroying houses here,” International Federation of the Red Cross spokeswoman Caroline Haga told AFP from Nueva Vizcaya province. “People are needing to be rescued.”
Nearly 10,000 people fled their homes ahead of Rosita’s arrival as they live in low-lying areas susceptible to flooding and rivers tend to overflow their banks.
The high winds flattened flimsy homes, tore the roofs off others, and downed power poles as well as trees.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Rosita started crossing Benguet as it moves toward La Union with maximum sustained winds of 140 kph and gustiness of up to 230 kph, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said.
Philippine disaster officials said the storm was less powerful than Ompong, which struck six weeks ago and left more than 100 dead. Most of the fatalities were due to a deadly landslide in the mining area of Itogon, Benguet.
A month of heavy monsoon rains had left mountainous areas in the northern Philippines primed for landslides, which were unleashed by the Ompong’s torrential downpours.
Authorities near last month’s deadly landslide evacuated at least 1,000 people from the Itogon area as Rosita approached.
An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty.
The Philippines’ deadliest storm on record is Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (international namen: Haiyan), which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the Visayas region in November 2013. /kga
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