Residents along Manila Bay play in the waves created by nearby Typhoon Noul as it approaches the northern Philippines, May 11, 2015. — AFP -[/caption]
MANILA, REUTERS — Heavy rains and strong winds flattened houses on coastal areas as typhoon Noul crashed into the northeastern tip of the Philippines, killing two people and prompting more than 3,000 residents to move to shelters.
The typhoon weakened slightly after hitting land, with winds of 160kph near the centre and gusts of up to 195kph as of today. It is expected to move north at 19kph and head to southern Japan by tomorrow, the weather bureau said.
British-based Tropical Storm Risk downgraded Noul today to category four typhoon from category five.
Noul made landfall yesterday in the rice- and corn-producing province of Cagayan about 400km north of the capital, Manila, toppling trees and cutting power in wide areas of the province. It is now hovering 185km north of the town of Aparri in Cagayan.
“The typhoon has moved away, but our problem so far is how to fix what was destroyed. The small houses of our poor town mates in coastal areas were badly hit,” Darwin Tobias, mayor of Santa Ana town in Cagayan, said in a radio interview.
The national disaster agency said two men died from electrocution as they were strapping down a tin roof on a house during the height of the typhoon in Aparri.
More than 3,400 residents from Cagayan and Isabela provinces were moved to evacuation centres in schools, gymnasiums and town halls before the typhoon, officials said.
Tobias said some residents from his town started returning to their homes early today when the rains stopped.
Despite the destruction wrought by Noul, it also brought much needed rains to rice and corn farms that had been hit by intense summer heat.
“The rains brought by Dodong (local name of Noul) helped our farmers greatly,” said James Geronimo, public information officer of Isabela, the country’ top corn producer and the second biggest rice-growing province.
An average of 20 typhoons cross the Philippines annually, with the storms becoming fiercer in recent years. More than 8,000 people died or went missing and about a million were made homeless by Haiyan, another category 5 typhoon that struck the central Philippines in 2013, bringing 5-metre high storm surges. — Reuters
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