Philippines capital threatened by Christmas typhoon


After making landfall on Christmas Day, typhoon Nina is sweeping towards Manila. Despite weakening, the super typhoon is continuing to disrupt Christmas celebrations, with authorities still on red alert.

Typhoon Nina, known locally as Nock-Ten, threatened on Monday to bring heavy rains and winds to the heavily-populated Philippine capital as it dragged its way across the archipelago.

After making landfall on Sunday with sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour (114 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 255 kilometers per hour, the typhoon weakened on Monday to 150 kilometers per hour as it headed west towards provinces south of Manila at 20 kilometers per hour.

Preparations in place

The civil defense office said the capital could suffer “heavy to intense rains, flashfloods and severe winds,” with rescue boats ready to be deployed in case the rivers overflow.

“Our local disaster councils are on red alert. We have pre-positioned relief supplies and rescue and (road) clearing equipment in Metro Manila,” said Mina Marasigan, spokeswoman of the country’s disaster monitoring council.

Huge evacuation effort

More than 218,000 people had already fled their homes by Monday. Food, water and other emergency supplies had been pre-positioned in areas expected to be lashed by the typhoon.

Christmas celebrations in the largely Christian nation continued to be marred by the unusually late typhoon as strong winds brought down trees and power lines. While almost 50 domestic and international flights were cancelled, authorities also warned of flash floods and mudslides. There were no official reports of injuries.

With about 20 typhoons and storms lashing the Philippines each year, the country of more than 100 million people is one of the most disaster-prone in the world. In the past 65 years, seven typhoons have struck the Philippines on Christmas Day.

ksb/kl (AFP, Reuters)