Typhoon Leaves 7 Dead in Philippines

By Jim Gomez 31 July 2012

MANILA, Philippines—A typhoon dumped torrents of rain as it swept past the Philippines, killing at least seven people and displacing more than 20,000 others by Tuesday. Another storm lashed the capital and neighboring provinces, leaving several parts of Manila without power and under water.

The wild weather whipped up by Typhoon Saola as it roared off the country’s northeast was compounded by a separate low-pressure area that lashed Manila with tornado-like winds and powerful thunderstorms late Sunday and early Monday. Many parts of the capital and outlying provinces were without power and low-lying areas were flooded.

Initially a tropical storm, Saola strengthened late Monday into a typhoon with sustained winds of 120 kilometers (74 miles) per hour and gusts of 150 kph (93 mph). The howler is expected to blow toward Taiwan later this week, according to Manila’s weather bureau.

Seven people died in the storm and several others are missing, said Benito Ramos of the Office of Civil Defense. One of the men who died had an asthma attack while he and about 100 other people were being rescued from a ferry that ran aground, caught fire then sank in rough seas late Sunday off central Romblon province.

In Manila, two barges that drifted off a pier smashed into wooden shanties on stilts in the city’s Tondo slum, destroying dozens of huts but causing no injuries.

Coast guard officer Noli Casiano said residents fled from the wind and waves before the empty barges rammed their homes.

“We fled to safety as the waves suddenly grew strong and the wind howled,” Ivy Rosario, a mother of two, told The Associated Press.

“When we came back, everything was destroyed,” said Rosario, pointing to the debris-littered waters near where her home once stood. Some villagers jumped into the water to try to salvage floating belongings.

More than 40,000 people were battered by the flooding and pounding rain in the capital and seven provinces, half of whom fled from their inundated homes into government evacuation centers and houses of relatives, according to the government’s disaster-response agency.

Saola is the seventh of 20 typhoons and storms expected to hit the Philippines this year. Saola is the name of a rare mammal found in Vietnam and Laos.