KMC » 9am - Oct 5, 2009
A powerful typhoon slams into northern Philippines. Typhoon Parma - the strongest to hit the country since 2006 - tore through the north of the main island of Luzon with sustained winds of up to 120 kilometers per hour. At least 17 people have been killed and thousands displaced. Damage and flooding has been extensive but less widespread than feared. Fallen trees and floods have cut off roads and many areas remain inaccessible due to power outages and disruption in communications. Hefty damage to crops has been reported with the government announcing more rice may need to be imported to fill its needs for the first half of 2010. Heavy rains triggered landslides including one in the Benguet province where small-scale miners were buried alive while sleeping in a shelter. [Witness] (Filipino) "I went to check at 5 am, and when I saw the place, their hut was already gone - it was just rocks and soil." More than 130,000 people in the country's eastern seaboard fled their homes ahead of the typhoon hitting with some 5,000 remaining in temporary shelter areas. Although rains have now ceased disaster officials have urged evacuees not to return to their homes yet. But, some villagers in the Cagayan valley have decided to go back, sift through their belongings and begin rebuilding their homes. In the Filipino capital of Manila, people who sought refuge in schools used as evacuation centers were being asked to leave so classes could resume. Many of those taking shelter have nowhere to go - their houses have been destroyed by the floods or are not fit to be lived in. [Paulino Alvarez, Evacuee]: (Male, Filipino) "The problem we're facing is that there aren't any houses fit for people to live in because it's muddy back at the village and there's no water there. We have power but no water." A father of five said he was concerned about where to go. [Raymundo Marinda, Evacuee]: "That's what we're worried about: where to find a home. I'll ask my relatives if I can stay with them for a while." Nearly 300 people were killed in and around Manila last week from another typhoon where record-breaking rainfall caused severe flooding. Parma is now heading towards Taiwan where authorities have already issued a warning.