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Super typhoon Megi batters the Philippines

In the Philippines rescue teams are on their way to towns on the island of Luzon, where typhoon Megi (known locally as ‘Juan’) made landfall yesterday shortly before noon. Typhoon Megi is a category five typhoon, also known as a ‘super typhoon’ and brought wind speeds over 250 km/h. The eastern provinces of Cagayan and Isabela have been worst hit, with the ferocious winds and heavy rainfall causing significant damage and destroying many homes. Early reports suggest ten people have been killed, but the number of reported deaths could rise. The full extent of the damage is unclear since power and communications lines have been brought down and roads blocked by fallen trees.

The authorities put in place a series of measures before the typhoon made landfall yesterday. All schools were closed and nearly 8,000 people across Isabela and Cagayan were evacuated. Flights to Luzon were suspended and all shipping was banned from the area. Soldiers and rescue teams were put on standby and the emergency services were ordered to stock up on food and medicines, which were re-positioned near to the area.

Farmers were also advised to harvest as much of their crop as possible before the typhoon arrived. Agricultural production accounts for a fifth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and the valleys of Luzon are one of the main rice growing regions, producing over a tenth of the country’s rice output. Early estimates suggest that over 130,000 hectares of farmland may have been affected, damaging around 100,000 tonnes or 10% of the region's rice crop. Worst-case forecasts had predicted that as much as 230,000 tonnes might have been destroyed, but at this stage, it does not appear the loss will be as high. Weather experts believe the typhoon would have weakened as it moved across land, slowed by the mountains in the northern Philippines.

Typhoon Megi is the worst weather system to hit the Philippines in four years. When typhoon Ketsana struck the capital last year, the authorities were caught off-guard, since the national weather bureau had predicted the typhoon would miss Manila. The damage was extensive and over 100 people died. This time the government was taking no chances; every precaution was taken following the early warnings of typhoon Megi’s passage across the Pacifica Ocean. As more detailed reports come in from Luzon, the authorities will be hoping that their extensive preparations have helped reduce the impact of the super typhoon and prevented unnecessary loss of life.

Typhoon Megi (the Korean word for catfish) has now left the Philippines and is headed towards the coast of China


Affect on SOS Children's Villages:

In Vietnam, typhoon Megi left a trail of destruction in Nghe An and Quang Binh provinces but fortunately two SOS Children’s Villages which are located in these provinces were not affected. All families and facilities in SOS Children’s Villages Vinh and Dong Hoi are safe. Children, mothers and staff are all well. In the Philippines, SOS Children’s Villages in Manila and Bataan were left unscathed. The typhoon hit the provinces in Northern Luzon Monday and Tuesday; some towns are still unreachable because of damaged roads and bridges. Schools were closed on Monday and Tuesday due to heavy rains and flood.

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