Nine killed as storm causes chaos in central Philippines

Image: Fishing boats are docked at the Manila bay in Navotas city, north of the capital December 15, 2015, after Philippine Coastguard prohibited small boats from sailing due to heavy current and winds brought by Typhoon Melor. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco


MANILA (Reuters) – Nine people were killed and hundreds spent the night huddled on their roofs in the central Philippines as floods generated by a powerful typhoon inundated villages, disaster officials said on Wednesday.

Typhoon Melor had paralyzed the capital, Manila, by late Tuesday, with floodwaters chest-deep in some areas disrupting train services and causing traffic gridlock on major roads. Five people were listed as missing.

The typhoon, known locally as Nona, was about 150 km (95 miles) northwest of Mindoro island, just to the south of Manila, with winds at its center of 130 kph (80 mph).

Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali said in a radio interview four people were killed in what he described as one of the strongest typhoons to hit the province in years.

Another five people were killed in Northern Samar, where Melor first made landfall further south. About 90 percent of the province was affected, said disaster official Jonathan Baldo.

“Many people will spend Christmas in evacuation centers without power and potable water,” Baldo said.

Thousands of lightly constructed houses had been reduced to “matchsticks”, he said.

“It may take three to four months to restore power in the province after power lines and electricity posts were toppled by strong winds,” Baldo said.

Five fishermen were missing in Albay gulf on the heavily populated main island of Luzon, officials there said.

About 120 domestic flights were grounded and nearly 200 ferry services were stopped.

The storm forced the evacuation of about 800,000 people to shelters. Another storm is expected to hit the southern Philippines later this week, forecaster Accuweather said.

An average of 20 typhoons pass through the Philippines each year. In 2013, typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people and left 1.4 million homeless in the central Philippines.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Paul Tait)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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