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Deadly Typhoon Megi dumps heavy rains on Philippines

by Staff Writers
Baguio, Philippines (AFP) Oct 19, 2010
Thousands of people sheltered in evacuation centres as Typhoon Megi dumped heavy rains across the Philippines' main island on Tuesday, a day after the ferocious storm took at least 14 lives.

Schools were suspended in Manila and other parts of Luzon island amid fears of flash floods, while rescue workers tried to reach villagers stranded in remote areas that were cut off by the typhoon.

"The rains are still coming down very strong. We are afraid to go back to our house," Remedios Doclayan, a 55-year-old grandmother, told AFP at a school in the mountain resort city of Baguio where she and her family sought shelter.

"We will stay here until the rains subside to make sure we will not be caught in floods and landslides."

Megi smashed mostly farming and fishing areas of northern Luzon with gusts of up to 260 kilometres (160 miles) an hour on Monday, making it the strongest typhoon in the world this year.

It killed 14 people as it tore roofs off houses, destroyed rice crops, toppled trees, ripped down power lines, triggered landslides and whipped up storm surges, the Red Cross and civil defence officials said.

At least six of the dead were crushed by falling objects knocked down by the strong winds, the civil defence office added.

Rescuers struggled to reach isolated areas on Tuesday, particularly in the heavily hit coastal communities of Isabela province that bore the brunt of the typhoon, officials said.

They fear the death toll will rise even further once reports from these areas come in.

"The waves in Maconacon were as big as houses and swamped the town plaza facing the Pacific Ocean," Isabela governor Faustino Dy said on DZBB radio as he appealed for help.

Dy said that water, food and medicine were desperately needed in Maconacon, a village of about 4,000 people that remained isolated and only accessible by helicopter or small boat.

Nearly 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of rice and corn crops had also been destroyed across Isabela, one of the Philippines' key farming regions, Dy said.

Meanwhile, the number of people who had moved to evacuation centres in northern Luzon rose to more than 10,600 on Tuesday as heavy rains continued to fall, according to the Red Cross.

The strong winds had dissipated after Megi moved off the west coast of Luzon early on Tuesday morning.

But Megi continued to unleash rain after its trajectory towards China stalled and it hovered near Luzon throughout Tuesday.

Government weather forecaster Mario Palafox said the storm could continue to dump rain on the Philippines well into Wednesday before it starts moving towards southern China.

Nevertheless, President Benigno Aquino expressed relief that the Philippines had so far escaped with relatively little damage, which he attributed to good weather forecasting that allowed government agencies to prepare.

"The damage and loss of life could have been much greater had we not prepared for the storm," Aquino said in a statement.

"The actions of the government and the people themselves show what can be accomplished when we all cooperate to anticipate the needs of our people."

Then-president Gloria Arroyo was previously criticised for not doing enough to prepare the country after two storms struck last year, leaving 1,100 dead.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency said that the southern Guangdong province appeared to be the most at risk from Megi, which could trigger waves of up to seven metres (21 feet).

Authorities in Guangdong had ordered all fishing boats to return to harbour before midnight Tuesday and reservoirs and hydro-stations to be on alert, Xinhua said.

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SHAKE AND BLOW
One dead as Typhoon Megi whips northern Philippines
Baguio, Philippines (AFP) Oct 18, 2010
Super Typhoon Megi smashed into the northern Philippines on Monday, causing landslides in mountainous areas, whipping up huge waves along the coast and killing at least one person. Forecasters said Megi was the strongest storm to hit the Philippines since Typhoon Durian unleashed mudslides that buried entire towns and killed over 1,000 in 2006, and was likely the most powerful in the world t ... read more

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