Slow Moving Typhoon Koppu Kills 4 in Philippines, Displaces Thousands

By and | October 19, 2015

Typhoon Koppu left at least four people dead in the Philippines, shutting schools and government offices, while floods and landslides continue to threaten the nation’s main Luzon Island.

The slow-moving and powerful storm caused a wall to collapse in Zambales in central Luzon, killing a 62-year-old woman, while a toppled tree led to the death of a 14-year-old in Quezon City near the capital. A six-year-old girl is missing after she slipped from a hanging bridge and fell into a creek in Nueva Vizcaya province. Two bodies were found in floodwaters in Nueva Ecija province, ABS-CBN News reported.

More than 20,400 people were affected by Koppu, which hit land as a super typhoon on Oct. 18, the disaster risk-monitoring agency said. Thousands remain in evacuation centers while electricity is being restored in many households. The government suspended work Monday in regions of central and northern Luzon as schools in the capital and affected provinces were shut.

The Philippines is battered annually by an average of 20 cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean, and is the second – most at-risk nation globally from storms, after Japan, according to Versik Maplecroft, a U.K.-based researcher.

Typhoon Haiyan, a Category 5 storm, killed more than 6,000 people in November 2013 and caused economic damage estimated at more than $13 billion. It had maximum winds surpassing 300 kilometers per hour [186.5 mph].

Koppu may have caused casualties outside the officially designated storm area. Another seven people died after rough seas and strong winds caused their boat to overturn on Oct. 18 near Iloilo City in central Philippines, the coast guard said in a statement.

The Magat Dam in Isabela province has been releasing water, while three dams in Luzon are near their spilling levels, according to data from the weather bureau. Nearly 30 sections of roadways, including Kennon Road, which connects the mountain city of Baguio to La Union province, were closed due to landslides, the public works department said.

Koppu is expected to leave the Philippine land mass on Tuesday and hover over its territorial waters until Oct. 24 before moving toward Taiwan, state weather forecaster Aldzcar Aurelio said in a televised briefing in Manila. Storm warnings have been lifted over metropolitan Manila as Koppu continues to move north.

Manila Electric Co., the country’s largest power retailer, on Monday said 2,400 customers were still without electricity, or 0.04 percent of the total, from as many as 267,000 on Sunday. Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan and Isabela are still experiencing power interruptions, the region’s risk agency said.

Nearly 400 towns may experience up to 100 millimeters (4 inches) of rain in the next three days, possibly triggering landslides and flash floods, Raymund Liboro, assistant secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, said in a televised briefing.

Koppu weakened, with maximum sustained winds of 75 knots (139 kilometers [86.4 mph]) per hour and gusts up to 90 knots [103.6 mph], according to the U.S. Navy and Air Force’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s 11 a.m. report Manila time. It’s moving north northeast at 4 knots [4.6 mph] and is forecast to make its closest approach to Taipei on Oct. 24.

As many as 8.4 million people may be affected by Koppu, according to the United Nations Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. About 280,000 Filipinos live in coastal areas and are vulnerable to storm surges, it said.

–With assistance from Andreo Calonzo, Norman P. Aquino and Clarissa Batino in Manila.

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