3 dead, 500,000 evacuated as typhoon pounds Philippines

3 dead, 500,000 evacuated as typhoon pounds Philippines

The storm is on track to pass close to Manila, which is home to some 13 million people and the site for many of the SEA Games events. (AFP)
The storm is on track to pass close to Manila, which is home to some 13 million people and the site for many of the SEA Games events. (AFP)

MANILA: Typhoon Kammuri barrelled into the Philippines’ main island, killing at least three people, displacing half a million more and shutting its main airport.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled work in government offices in Metro Manila, while schools were closed as Kammuri battered the capital region Tuesday. The foreign exchange and stock markets were open.

About half a million people moved to safer ground as the typhoon slammed into Luzon island before midnight on Monday. Authorities closed Manila’s airport for 12 hours until 11pm Tuesday, prompting the cancellation of nearly 500 flights.

The storm locally known as Tisoy is bringing violent winds and intense rainfall over the southern portion of Luzon island, packing maximum winds of 140 kilometres per hour near the centre and gusts of up to 195 kph, the nation’s weather bureau said in its 2pm report. Heavy rains will continue until Tuesday night in the capital, it said.

Two people were killed in Oriental Mindoro province, Governor Humerlito Dolor told DZMM radio. A 33-year-old man who was repairing his roof died of electrocution in Camarines Sur province on Monday.

Electricity was shut in 10 areas in Luzon as strong winds toppled power lines.

Ayala Land Inc, Robinsons Land Inc and SM Prime Holdings Inc malls waived overnight parking fees to allow customers to wait out the storm.

Powerful winds ripped apart walls and shattered windows of the airport in Albay province, while uprooting trees in Samar province, ABS-CBN News reported. Organisers of the 30th Southeast Asian Games suspended canoe-kayak and windsurfing competitions.

The Supreme Court shut all courts in Metro Manila, while an international conference organized by the Philippine central bank was canceled.

Kammuri is the 20th storm to hit the Philippines in 2019, where about 20 cyclones pass through each year. In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people in the Southeast Asian nation.

- Games plagued by build-up woes -

Kammuri had already snarled some plans for the SEA Games, which opened Saturday and are set to run through Dec 11 in and around Manila.

The windsurfing competition was halted as a precaution and triathlon events were held earlier than scheduled.

Ramon Suzara, the chief operating officer of the organising committee, said contingency plans were in place for bad weather, but the duration of the Games would not be extended.

"Everything is set," Suzara told reporters. "For contingency, all venues, all competition managers, technical delegates are ready."

The storm is the latest trouble for the Games, which saw a series of transport hiccups and a rush of last-minute construction ahead of the opening ceremony.

This year's Games in Clark, Manila and Subic are already particularly complex, with competition in a record 56 sports at dozens of venues that are in some cases hours apart by car.

Around 8,750 athletes and team officials are expected at this year's 30th edition -- the biggest ever -- along with another 12,000 volunteers.

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