Typhoon Koppu has been showing signs of weakening after it hit the shores of Philippines. But, the slow-moving storm has already caused the displacement of over 25,000 villagers and claimed four lives.
Slow-moving Typhoon Koppu, locally known as “Lando,” appeared to weaken after coming ashore and lashing the northeastern Philippines on Sunday with fierce winds. The typhoon has knocked out power in multiple regions and forced about 25,000 villagers to seek shelter from its wrath. Storm winds of up to 115 miles per hour were recorded, which uprooted trees, caused massive flooding, and triggered landslides that swept away anything in their path.
While the National Emergency Management has been trying to offer assistance, army troops and police had to be deployed to rescue residents. Without power, these residents were at the complete mercy of the elements and were trapped in flooded villages in the provinces of Aurora, where Typhoon Koppu hit the hardest. The storm devastated the nearby province of Nueva Ecija, where farmers still cultivate rice the traditional way. The rice farmlands were overrun by floodwaters right during harvest time, triggering fears of an impending famine and food scarcity for the region that mainly depends on the crop for its sustenance.
Typhoon Koppu has claimed the lives of four people in three separate incidents. The first casualty occurred when a tree, whose roots were weakened by soil erosion, fell on a man on Sunday in Quezon, a city in the Manila metropolitan area. Two people drowned in Palayan, a city in Nueva Ecija province, while a fourth person was killed after a boat capsized due to the powerful waves caused by the storm, reported Fox News Latino.
Despite the typhoon moving at a very slow speed of just 3.1 mph, Koppu has been triggering heavy rains and has so far been responsible for over a dozen mudslides in multiple regions. These landslides have washed away roads and uprooted electricity poles, leaving thousands without power. Besides leaving the villagers without basic amenities, the landslides have also cut the communication entirely.
National Emergency Management office director Alexander Pama says the official death toll and those affected by Typhoon Koppu could rise further, but there is no immediate way of knowing, because many parts that were hit by the storm are remote and no information has been received from officials stationed there.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) October 17, 2015
Storm warnings in almost all of the 30 provinces in northern Philippines have been issued because of Typhoon Koppu. Though flights and sea voyages remained suspended, officials are now considering opening the routes, albeit temporarily. Internal regions have been seeing the waters recede. However, officials are cautious and warn that many regions are still very volatile and landslides could occur without any notice, said Alexander Pama, who heads the government’s disaster-response agency.
“We’re asking our countrymen not to become complacent. Rainwater could still cascade down mountainsides after Koppu [has] passed and flood villages.”
Koppu, Japanese for “cup,” is the 12th storm to hit the Philippines this year, reported Fox News. The region witnesses anywhere between 15 and 20 typhoons each year during the rainy season, which lasts from June till November.
— Philippine Red Cross (@philredcross) October 17, 2015
Though Typhoon Koppu has shown signs of receding, President Benigno Aquino III and disaster-response agencies have cautioned villagers to seek high grounds and remain alert as the region is still fragile from the storm’s impact. Fortunately, the rains have started to clear, and they were surprisingly less ferocious than predicted earlier, reported Saludes, the government forecaster.
With sustained wind speeds of about 93 mph and gusts of up to 115 mph, Typhoon Koppu may not be as strong as Typhoon Haiyan, but it has surely caused a lot of damage.
[Image Credit | Jay Directo / Getty Images]