The typhoon, over 400 miles in diameter, swept across the Philippines yesterday, battering the main island of Luzon and the capital Manila. 18 people have been confirmed dead from the storm, though the death toll is likely to rise, with 35 still missing. Some children are among the dead.
Travelling westwards, the centre of the typhoon brought gusts of up to 170km/h (105mph), causing serious damage to many buildings. Though the storm system cleared the north-western coast of the Philippines last night, it has also left extensive flooding. Waves breached sea walls in many places and water from four dams had to be released after levels became critically high in the province of Bulacan.
This morning, a huge clear-up operation has begun, with emergency workers clearing trees and debris. Electricity supplies have been restored in Manila and most public buildings and schools have reopened. However, across the island of Luzon, more than a million people are still without power. The National Disaster Agency said that around 48,000 people remained in the evacuation centres, though most are expected to head home today.
Though the damage caused by the storm is still being assessed, initial estimates put the cost at over 2 million dollars, which includes anticipated losses in agriculture. The storm swept through one of the country’s key rice-growing areas, the Cagayan Valley, and will have had an impact on the harvest there. The country can ill-afford such losses at a time when rising food prices make importing food a greater financial burden on the economy.
The Philippines is well-used to dealing with extreme weather. An average of twenty typhoons hit the country each year, of which five to seven are particularly destructive. Luzon is at a significantly higher risk of being hit than southern areas of the country, with the frequency of typhoons increasing from south to north. But though the country is well-prepared for these events, a spokesperson from the Department of Science and Technology has warned that with climate change, typhoons are likely to get stronger in the future. And as the clearing up begins, there are already warnings of another typhoon developing over the Pacific Ocean which could bring more dangerous weather to the region in the coming week.
SOS Children in Philippines
SOS Children has been working in the Philippines since 1964. We currently run eight SOS Children's Villages in the country, and we care for more than 6,700 Filipinos throughout our work. Our Children's Village in Manila and two other Villages on the island of Luzon are unaffected and all children and staff are safe.