RAIN-SOAKED residents in Mindoro huddled on rooftops Wednesday after Typhoon “Nona” (international name Melor) caused heavy flooding and killed at least nine people, authorities said.
They added that the number of casualties would likely rise because most of the affected provinces remained isolated after the storm took down telecommunication and power lines.
A barrage of rain in the Metro Manila on Tuesday night submerged some roads and caused traffic chaos, although flooding in the megacity of 12 million had subsided by Wednesday morning.
The death toll climbed after authorities on Mindoro reported five people had died there.
Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali said floodwaters rose sharply in parts of the island on Tuesday night, forcing residents to climb onto the roofs of their homes.
“The floods have begun to subside but there are still people on their roofs. Many homes were damaged. We are going to the areas on board the coast guard’s rubber boats today,” Umali said on radio dzMM.
Disaster officials said they were still confirming the number of dead from the storm.
Initial damage to agriculture was pegged at P160 million, while damage to infrastructure was still being assessed.
The typhoon also wrecked more than 3,000 houses in Regions IVB, V, and VIII and forced the suspension of classes since Monday in 20 provinces, 23 cities and 34 municipalities.
Local officials said it may take weeks and even months before power lines can be restored in the badly affected municipalities in the Visayas, Bicol, Romblon, and Mindoro.
In Calapan City, the traditional dawn masses for the novena, were cancelled for the first time since World War II because of the damage wrought by Nona.
After drifting slowly across Mindoro overnight, Nona moved out into the South China Sea on Wednesday morning, the weather bureau said.
But forecasters warned it could still cause rain of up to 30 millimeters per hour in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, although Mindoro was expected to not be as badly hit.
Four others were earlier reported killed on Samar, an impoverished island of 1.5 million people in the eastern part of the country, where Melor first tore in from the Pacific Ocean on Monday afternoon.
Millions of people were also without power in the eastern Philippines and Mindoro, with no guarantees electricity would be restored before Christmas.
And 120,000 people remained in storm shelters, the national disaster council said.
“This is going to be a sad Christmas for us,” Umali said.
Umali said Nona was the strongest storm to hit the province in 10 years.
Meanwhile, the weather bureau said it was monitoring another storm brewing over the Pacific east of the main southern island of Mindanao.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons a year, many of them deadly, with the strongest often happening towards the end of the year.
The most recent deadly storm to hit the country, Lando, killed 54 people and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes after it pummelled rice-growing northern provinces in October.
In November 2013, one of the strongest typhoons on record, Yolanda, flattened entire communities in the central region with tsunami-like waves, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing.
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