MANILA — A powerful typhoon ripped across the Philippines on Wednesday, sending hundreds of thousands of coastal residents fleeing to evacuation centers and leaving several people dead, although officials said the toll could rise.
Typhoon Rammasun cut a path of destruction from the country’s east to its northwest edge, with 90-mile-an-hour winds that tore roofs off homes, felled trees that blocked roads and cut electricity to at least 4.5 million people, officials said. It passed near the capital, Manila, but it appeared to have been spared the worst of its effects.
More than 20 typhoons typically hit the Philippines each year during the peak storm season, roughly from June to September. While officials said that more deaths could still be reported, they also said that Rammasun’s toll could have been much higher if residents had not moved out of risky coastal areas before the storm.
“The experiences of past years have taught people a lot,” said Gwen Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross. “They cooperate, and they evacuate.”
Continue reading the main storyVideo
Deadly Typhoon in the Philippines
Deadly Typhoon in the Philippines
Typhoon Rammasun has killed at least 10 people in the Philippines, and forced tens of thousands to evacuate. Video Credit By Carrie Halperin on Publish Date July 16, 2014. Image CreditFrancis R. Malasig/European Pressphoto Agency
Ms. Pang said the memory of the far more destructive Typhoon Haiyan in November had motivated people to heed government warnings. Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people, mostly in the east.
Tacloban, an eastern city that was devastated by Haiyan, was not hit directly by the storm on Wednesday, but it did experience high winds and rain that required the evacuation of thousands of people still living in temporary housing. About 27,000 people in the city were evacuated or otherwise affected on Wednesday, said Dinky Soliman, the head of the country’s social welfare department.
Typhoon Rammasun made landfall early Wednesday near the eastern coastal province of Albay, just north of where Typhoon Haiyan had struck in November. The storm moved west across the country, passing south of Manila before churning through the province of Bataan and near the former United States Navy base at Subic Bay.
On Wednesday afternoon, the storm crossed the northern Philippine island of Luzon and entered the South China Sea, moving on a path toward the Chinese island of Hainan.
Residents dismantled a shanty near Manila on Wednesday after it was damaged by winds and rain brought by Typhoon Rammasun. Credit Dennis M. Sabangan/European Pressphoto Agency
Officials in the Philippines had reported six deaths by Wednesday afternoon, including a woman who was hit by a falling utility pole and another who was crushed when her house partially collapsed, the national disaster coordinating agency said on Wednesday. Three other people, including an 11-month-old baby, were killed in Cavite, a province south of Manila, the governor of the area said.
The death toll could rise as search-and-rescue teams move into remote areas affected by the storm, officials said. Three fishermen were also reported missing.
Manila was largely spared the worst of the typhoon’s effects, though windows were shattered in shopping malls, homes and businesses. Schools, government offices and most businesses were closed on Wednesday, and much of the city was without electricity.
The capital did not experience the widespread flooding that followed some previous storms. In August 2012, at least 72 people were killed and more than two million people were affected when Manila and surrounding areas were submerged by rains that followed storms.
The storm on Wednesday disrupted transportation across the country, with about 4,900 boat passengers left stranded at ports because of a ban on sea travel, according to the Philippine Coast Guard. Dozens of flights were canceled, and at least two planes at the Manila airport were damaged by high winds.