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Philippines Typhoon Kills at Least 4, Causes Flooding, Damage

  • VOA News

A resident retrieves belongings from his destroyed house after Typhoon Nock-Ten hit Malinao, Albay in central Philippines, Dec. 26, 2016.

At least four people were killed as Typhoon Nock-Ten, which disrupted Christmas festivities in parts of the Philippines, brought heavy winds and rains to Manila on Monday, officials said. Among them, a couple who police say were swept away in a flash flood in Albay province, southeast of Manila.

The typhoon made landfall Sunday evening on the remote island of Catanduanes with wind gusts of up to 255 kilometers per hour. Known locally as Typhoon Nina, the storm moved westward across mountainous and island provinces, damaging homes, uprooting trees and knocking down communications. A weakened system then headed out over the South China Sea.

As many as 200,000 people were under evacuation orders, but officials say it has been difficult to get them to leave their homes because of the Christmas holiday, which is a major celebration in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

Cedric Daep, a disaster response official in Albay, told the Associated Press that shopping malls and stores were told to close early on Christmas Day and officials urged people to remain indoors while others were asked to evacuate.

"Some residents just refused to leave their homes even when I warned them that you can face what amounts to a death penalty," Daep said over the phone.

"But at the height of [the] typhoon, many cars were still being driven around and people were out walking," he said. "We warned them enough, but we just can't control their mind."

More than 80 domestic and international flights were canceled, civil defense officials said. They warned that Manila could see "heavy to intense rains, flashfloods and severe winds" when the storm struck.

"Our local disaster councils are on red alert. We have pre-positioned relief supplies and rescue and ((road)) clearing equipment in metro Manila," Mina Marasigan, spokeswoman for the country's disaster monitoring council, told the French news agency.

The eastern region of Bicol felt the brunt of the storm on Sunday, with homes damaged by flooding and heavy winds, officials said.

Energy Minister Alfonso Cusi promised that power would be restored quickly in badly hit Camarines and Albay provinces.

"We've prepared for it and we are currently on the ground to assess the damage and quickly restore compromised energy facilities," Cusi told the Reuters news agency.

The Philippines has a history of typhoons striking near the end of the year.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan plowed into the Philippines as one of the deadliest tropical cyclones on record. Also known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda, the storm killed 7,800 people, according to national emergency management officials.

The Philippines' weather agency says seven Christmas Day typhoons have struck the nation over the past 65 years.

The country is lashed by about 20 typhoons and storms each year.

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