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Typhoon Koppu Hits Philippines With Torrential Rains

  • Simone Orendain

Small fishing boats are placed by the seawall as strong winds and slight rain brought by Typhoon Koppu hit Manila, Philippines, Oct. 18, 2015.

Small fishing boats are placed by the seawall as strong winds and slight rain brought by Typhoon Koppu hit Manila, Philippines, Oct. 18, 2015.

Slow moving Typhoon Koppu slammed into the northern Philippines Sunday, killing at least one person and causing thousands to evacuate their homes.

The storm, which has weakened slightly since coming ashore, is still downing power and communication lines with powerful winds and rains that could last until Wednesday.

Tens of thousands are without power and some areas have already been overwhelmed by floodwaters. The typhoon has also disrupted flights and ferry service across the main northern island of Luzon.

Weather forecasters say Koppu will remain over Luzon for several days due to a high pressure area in the north and another typhoon in the northwest Pacific.

Forecasters predict the storm could dump 600 millimeters of rain over the next several days.

Alexander Pama, who heads the government's main disaster agency said Koppu "has slowed almost to a crawl. We're hoping it would speed up and spare us sooner." In addition, Pama said the government is "strongly recommending" the evacuation of residents in the Crodillera region, especially villages that are landslide-and-flood-prone.

Residents huddle together under their umbrellas as strong winds and slight rain are brought by Typhoon Koppu, Oct. 18, 2015 in Manila, Philippines.

Residents huddle together under their umbrellas as strong winds and slight rain are brought by Typhoon Koppu, Oct. 18, 2015 in Manila, Philippines.

Authorities have canceled flights and local officials have conducted “forced evacuations” of coastal areas and river banks known to be hit by floods and landslides to minimize loss of life.

The storm had weakened slightly to gusts of 185 kilometers per hour.

The biggest threat could come from rain and the resulting floods, landslides and storm surges, according to forecasters.

Koppu is not expected to hit the capital, Manila, directly. It will instead likely sweep across the northern end of Luzon.

President Benigno Aquino on Friday appeared on national television to warn residents about the storm.

"It is clear, your government is here in order to ensure that we will meet our goal of zero casualties. But I must emphasize, each local government unit, community, and Filipino that will be affected has the duty to cooperate in the collective action we are taking to overcome the challenges ahead," he said.

It is the first time Aquino has issued a nationally televised warning about a typhoon since November 2013 when Typhoon Haiyan swept through the country, leaving more than 7,000 people dead or missing.

About 20 typhoons and storms hit the Philippines each year, many of them deadly.

Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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