Typhoon Angela Rips Through the Philippines, Leaves 65 Dead
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The most powerful typhoon in a decade ripped through the Philippines on Friday, churning up floodwaters that killed at least 65 people, destroying thousands of houses and cutting electricity to a third of the country.
Billboards crashed to the ground and 125-mph winds tore roofs from houses. To keep from being blown away, television reporters on Friday lashed themselves to lampposts as they broadcast from Manila Bay.
After whipping up 140-mph winds along the eastern coast of the Philippines’ largest island, Luzon, on Thursday, Typhoon Angela weakened only slightly before hitting the capital, Manila, on Friday.
One of the billboards it toppled crushed eight buses and two trucks at a garage in suburban Paranaque.
By Saturday morning, roads littered with debris were being cleared and linemen were trying to restore electricity to a wide area around Manila.
The typhoon, the strongest in a decade, swept Friday across 25 provinces on the main island of Luzon, including Manila, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.
The disaster council said 437,760 people were affected, including more than 280,000 who were forced to flee to government shelters after their homes were submerged in floodwaters or destroyed by the howler.
In Manila, local officials said the more than 16,000 people forced to flee were returning to their homes Saturday as floodwaters receded.
The disaster council also said damage to agriculture was initially estimated at about $25.7 million. Infrastructural damage was about $20.6 million.
The agency’s early Saturday report said 62 people were killed, 50 of them from the Bicol region on the southeastern leg of Luzon, where the typhoon landed.
Police reported three other people died in the metropolitan Manila area after they were hit by flying debris.
The disaster council also reported 10 people were missing, but an official of Quezon province east of Manila said as many 23 people remained missing in his province.
The casualty figure could still grow bigger as communication links to remote areas are restored.
But the fatalities so far are fewer than those caused by typhoons of similar strength in the past. The much weaker Tropical Storm Zack killed at least 165 people in the central Philippines just a week ago.
Officials attributed the lower toll to extensive preparations, including evacuation of residents of flood-prone areas as early as Thursday.
President Fidel Ramos, who supervised relief and rescue work Friday, was to fly to the Bicol region Saturday to meet local officials and assess the damage there.
Ramos had declared a state of disaster in provinces in the path of the storm, allowing local officials to spend emergency funds with little government interference.
The typhoon moved farther away from the Philippines Saturday. At 10 a.m. (9 p.m. Friday EDT), it was 250 miles west of Manila, moving westward toward Vietnam at 12 mph and packing sustained winds of 106 mph with gusts of up to 128 mph.
The deadliest typhoon to hit the Philippines in 50 years was Typhoon Ike, which killed 4,353 people in August 1984. The strongest storm on record in the Philippines is Typhoon Joan, whose 172 mph winds killed 2,361 people in October, 1970.