Floodwaters from Typhoon Koppu hit northern Philippines


Manila (dpa) – Philippine emergency teams were attempting Monday to reach victims stranded by flooding from Typhoon Koppu, and began clearing areas damaged by the storm which battered the north of the country.

Soldiers, police officers and other emergency workers were dispatched to the northern province of Nueva Ecija, a rice-growing province where murky floodwaters reached up to rooftops in some places.

Stranded residents’ calls for help were sent via the disaster relief agency’s website and Twitter account, or through radio stations.

“My family trapped on this location, please send rescue,” one tweet said, which included a map. Another tweet said, “Please help them. Several houses have already been swept away.”

President Benigno Aquino arrived in Nueva Ecija on Monday, and met some of the people displaced by the typhoon.

The fatalities from the storm included three people hit by fallen trees or collapsed masonry, and two who drowned in floods in Nueva Ecija.

One man was buried in a landslide in Benguet province, while another was electrocuted in Tarlac province, local and disaster relief officials said.

In an incident that officials said was related to the typhoon, seven people drowned when a motorboat capsized in choppy seas off Iloilo City, 460 kilometres south of Manila, the coastguard said.

The boat had just left port on Sunday when it was battered by huge waves and strong winds. Thirty-two people were rescued, but two were still missing.

“We can consider this as an effect of Koppu because according to the weather bureau, Koppu enhanced the monsoon, causing wind gusts,” said Rosario Cabrera, a regional director of the Office of Civil Defence.

The storm, which slammed into the country early Sunday, displaced more than 20,000 people, while about 6,530 passengers were stranded after dozens of flights were cancelled and sea travel was suspended.

Although it had weakened since the weekend, the slow-moving typhoon was still over the very northern part of the country, packing maximum winds of 120 kilometres per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 150 kph, the weather bureau said.

It was moving north-northeast at just 5 kph. The typhoon’s slow passage meant it had time to inflict more rain and wind damage compared to a faster-moving storm of the same strength.