World

Powerful typhoon brings needed rain to northeast Philippines; two people reported killed

Reuters

Heavy rains and strong winds flattened houses in coastal areas as Typhoon Noul crashed into the northeastern tip of the Philippines, killing two people and prompting more than 3,000 residents to move to shelters.

The typhoon weakened slightly after hitting land, with winds of 160 kph (99 mph) near the center and gusts of up to 195 kph (121 mph) as of Monday. It is expected to move north at 19 kph and head toward southern Japan by Tuesday, the Weather Bureau said.

British-based Tropical Storm Risk on Monday downgraded Noul to Category 4 typhoon from Category 5.

Noul made landfall Sunday in the rice- and corn-producing province of Cagayan about 400 km (250 miles) north of the capital, Manila, toppling trees and cutting power in wide areas of the province. It is now hovering 185 km north of the town of Aparri in Cagayan.

“The typhoon has moved away, but our problem so far is how to fix what was destroyed. The small houses of our poor townmates in coastal areas were badly hit,” Darwin Tobias, mayor of Santa Ana town in Cagayan, said in a radio interview.

The National Disaster Agency said two men in Aparri died after being electrocuted as they were strapping down a tin roof on a house during the height of the typhoon.

More than 3,400 residents from Cagayan and Isabela provinces were moved to evacuation centers in schools, gymnasiums and town halls before the typhoon, officials said.

Tobias said some residents from his town started returning to their homes early Monday when the rain stopped.

Despite the destruction wrought by Noul, it also brought much needed precipitation to rice and corn farms that had been hit by intense summer heat.

“The rains brought by Dodong (local name of Noul) helped our farmers greatly,” said James Geronimo, public information officer of Isabela, the country’s top corn producer and the second biggest rice-growing province.

An average of 20 typhoons cross the Philippines annually, and the storms have become fiercer in recent years.

More than 8,000 people died or went missing and about 1 million were made homeless by Haiyan, another Category 5 typhoon that struck the central Philippines in 2013, bringing 5-meter-high storm surges.