MANILA (Agencies): The Philippines reopened its main airport late on Tuesday (Dec 3) as Typhoon Kammuri heads to the South China Sea, leaving at least four people dead and displacing half a million more.
Ninoy Aquino International Airport's runways were opened at 6pm local time to allow airlines to bring back their aircraft to Manila, general manager Ed Monreal said in a statement. Regular flight operations were to resume at 11pm.
Typhoon Kammuri barrelled across the Philippines with fierce winds and rain on Tuesday (Dec 3), leaving at least four people dead, forcing hundreds of thousands of villagers to abandon high-risk communities.
At 4am on Wednesday (Dec 4), Kammuri weakened into a severe tropical storm as it blew into the West Philippine Sea with maximum sustained winds of 100kph and gusts of up to 125kph, forecasters said.
At least four people died and several others were reported injured, with officials attributing the low casualty figure to the early evacuation of hundreds of thousands of villagers from villages prone to high waves, flash floods and landslides.
A villager was electrocuted while fixing the battered roof of his house in Libmanan town in Camarines Sur province in the hard-hit Bicol region, regional disaster response officer Claudio Yucot said.
In Oriental Mindoro, one of the last provinces to be lashed by the typhoon, a man died after being pinned by a fallen tree and another perished after being hit by a tin roof, Gov Humerlito Dolor said.
A construction worker on his way home on a motorcycle was hit by a falling tree and died in the port city of Ormoc in Leyte province, police said.
“There could have been more if we did not do pre-emptive evacuations, ” Dolor told reporters.
The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons and tropical storms each year and has frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, making the archipelago of more than 100 million people one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations.
Kammuri's pounding rain and wind damaged the airport in Legazpi city in Albay province, collapsing a portion of its ceiling, scattering chairs in the arrival and departure areas and shattering glass panes.
A truck turned on its side after being buffeted by strong winds in the city, near Mount Mayon, one of the country’s most active volcanos.
Albay is one of several provinces in the Bicol region which lost post power due to toppled posts and downed transmission lines. Nearly two million people were affected by the power outages, officials said.
In Manila, officials shut the international airport for seven hours starting before noon Tuesday as the typhoon roared through provinces south of the capital. More than 400 domestic and international flights were canceled due to the airport closure, airport manager Ed Monreal said.
Authorities moved thousands of Boy Scouts attending a jamboree in the mountainous town of Botolan in the northwestern province of Zambales.
The Philippines postponed several competitions in the South-East Asian Games, which it is hosting, because of the stormy weather, including wind surfing, polo and tennis matches in Manila and outlying provinces. Organszers said other events would be delayed if needed for safety but there was no plan to extend the 11-day games which opened on Saturday (Nov 30).
The coast guard suspended sea travel in the northeast, stranding more than 7,000 travellers along with thousands of cargo ships and smaller watercraft in the archipelago nation. - Bllomberg/The Philippine Inquirer/Asia News Network