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Patricia grows into major hurricane threatening Mexico
by Staff Writers
Mexico City (AFP) Oct 22, 2015

Philippine typhoon toll hits 54 as floods shift
Manila (AFP) Oct 22, 2015 - The death toll from a ferocious typhoon in the Philippines climbed to 54 on Thursday, as home-wrecking floods shifted downstream to coastal villages, displacing tens of thousands of residents.

Inundations from torrential weekend rains in mountain regions caused by Typhoon Koppu cascaded into coastal fishing and farming villages, submerging them in waters up to three metres (10 feet) deep, officials said.

Residents of Bulacan and Pampanga province, around two hours' drive from the capital Manila, fled by foot to evacuation centres as the waters rose quickly overnight, aggravated by a high tide, they said.

"The waters have nowhere else to go. Imagine two to three days worth of rain from the mountains coming down," Nigel Lontoc, assistant director of the region's civil defence office, told AFP.

Close to 60,000 people left their homes in Bulacan and Pampanga, a geographic catch basin for waters from the upland provinces of Nueva Ecija and Aurora, which bore the brunt of Koppu on Sunday and Monday.

Lontoc said the floods in the coastal areas may last a week.

Koppu made landfall on the east coast of Luzon, the Philippines' biggest and most populated island, early Sunday with 210-kilometre (130-mile) per hour winds.

Koppu, the second strongest typhoon to hit the disaster-weary country this year, then crawled over vast swathes of Luzon for three days, bringing torrential rains that triggered landslides and massive flooding.

A report from the national disaster monitoring office said close to 500,000 people had been displaced by flooding.

The waters had receded considerably in the upland provinces and many had returned to their mud-covered homes.

But the death toll climbed to 54, from 47 on Wednesday, based on an AFP tally of confirmed figures from national and local authorities.

In the Cordillera mountain region, the civil defence office confirmed five more deaths from landslides on Monday and Tuesday, raising the death toll to 21 from 16 on Wednesday.

In the central farming regions of Luzon, the deaths of two 12-year-old girls were reported, one of whom died from drowning and the other from a snake bite, according to the regional civil defence office.

Koppu had weakened into a low pressure area on Thursday, bringing moderate rains over the outlying Batanes islands in the far north of the Philippines, state weather forecaster Gener Quitlong told AFP.

The Philippines is battered by an average 20 typhoons a year, many of them deadly.

In November 2013, 7,350 people were left dead or missing after the most powerful storm on record, Haiyan, wiped out entire communities in the central islands.

Fast-moving Patricia grew into an "extremely dangerous" major hurricane off Mexico's Pacific coast on Thursday, forecasters said, warning of possible landslides and flash flooding.

The US National Hurricane Center said "preparations should be rushed to completion" as Patricia increased ominously from a category two to a category four storm in the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers (130 miles) per hour, the hurricane was expected to strike the coast on Friday afternoon or evening, the Miami-based center said.

Forecasts show that Patricia could make landfall in the western state of Jalisco, near the border with Colima state.

The center said its "hurricane hunter" aircraft found that Patricia had become an "extremely dangerous" hurricane.

Emergency services personnel were being moved from other states to the threatened region, said Mexico's National Water Commission director Roberto de la Parra.

"It is moving much faster than hurricanes we have had in the past," de la Parra told a news conference.

Mexican officials closed schools in Colima and Guerrero state.

Two dams in Jalisco and Michoacan were being drained to prevent flooding while residents were advised to protect their windows with large tape in the form of a cross.

The region includes the major port of Manzanillo, Colima state, and the tourist resort of Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco.

At 1800 GMT, Patricia was 445 kilometers south of Manzanillo and 385 miles southwest of the port of Lazaro Cardenas, according to the US hurricane center.

The storm was moving west-northwest at 28 kilometers per hour.

Patricia is expected to produce six to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rainfall accumulations over the states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero, which could produce flash floods and mudslides, the US center said.

The storm surge could also produce coastal flooding, accompanied by "large and destructive waves," it warned.

The Mexican National Water Commission warned that rivers could rise and roads could be affected by the bad weather.

- Wind force causes concern -

Mexico's interior ministry activated its emergency response committee to coordinate the response.

Officials said nearly 1,800 shelters for 259,000 are available, but no evacuations have been ordered so far.

"The amount of water and the strength of the wind worry us," national civil protection coordinator Luis Felipe Puente told a news conference.

The states of Jalisco, Michoacan, Colima and Nayarit are expected to get the equivalent of 40 percent of their annual rainfall in the next 48 hours, the National Water Commission said.

Mexico faces the double threat of Atlantic and Pacific tropical storms during the hurricane season, which ends November 30.

In 2013, twin storms Ingrid and Manuel nearly simultaneously struck each coast, leaving 157 people dead in a rare double onslaught.

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Previous Report
Philippine floods ease but typhoon death toll hits 47
Manila (AFP) Oct 21, 2015
Widespread flooding in the Philippines caused by a powerful typhoon eased on Wednesday but the storm's death toll climbed to 47 and tens of thousands of people remained in evacuation centres. As the weather improved three days after the onslaught of Typhoon Koppu, officials were also counting the cost of ruined crops and drowned livestock from heavy rain that flowed into the vast farming reg ... read more

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