CABAGAN, Isabela – Farmers fished dead cattle out of inundated rice paddies while residents trudged through chest-deep flood waters as disaster officials on Thursday started accounting the devastation from Super Typhoon “Lawin” (international name: Haima).
The most powerful storm to hit the country this year leveled entire buildings, toppled trees and power lines and blew off tin roofs after it slammed the country’s northeastern coast before midnight on Wednesday with 325 kph wind gusts.
Some 18,157 families or 90,589 individuals fled to evacuation centers after authorities warned of floods and three-meter-high storm surges, the National Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.
A 70-year-old man died of a heart attack while waiting the storm out at a shelter in Santo Tomas town here. An army militiaman also died after he was struck by lightning in nearby Palanan town.
“Initial report na natatangap namin, madami pong naitala na infrastructure na nasira dahil sa tindi ng lakas na hangin na dala ng Bagyong Lawin [Based on initial reports, Typhoon Lawin damaged a lot of infrastructure with its very strong winds],” NDRRMC spokeswoman Romina Marasigan told DZMM.
At least 18 domestic flights were grounded while around 3,500 people and 300 cargo vans were stranded in various ports.
“Lawin” crossed Isabela and Apayao provinces overnight and barreled towards the Ilocos provinces early Thursday, on its way out to the South China Sea. At 7 a.m., the eye of the storm was located 40 km northwest of Laoag City.
While the eye of the storm hit far north, it brought rains within its 800-km diameter that covered almost the entire Luzon, the country’s largest and most populous island.
The second highest rainfall alert, orange, was raised over the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Tarlac early Thursday morning. The region is still reeling from floods brought by Typhoon “Karen” (international name: Sarika) over the weekend.
In Isabela, tree branches swayed as the storm’s monster winds neared late on Wednesday.
“Lawin” whipped rough seas in Batanes province on the country’s northernmost tip. The province is still reeling from Typhoon “Ferdie” (international name: Meranti) last month.
The Philippines is battered by an average of 20 typhoons per year, many of them deadly.
“Lawin” is one of the strongest since “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013, which wiped out entire communities and left 7,350 people dead or missing in the Visayas. – reports from Raffy Santos, Raya Capulong, Ron Gagalac and Jorge Carino, ABS-CBN News
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