Typhoon Cimaron blew over the northern Philippines on Monday October 30, felling trees, toppling power lines, blasting roofs off homes and leaving at least three people dead, officials said.
Cimaron, which made landfall late Sunday, is the second typhoon to hit the northern Philippines in as many months and was packing maximum winds of 109 mph and gusts of up to 130 mph.
It was forecast to exit the region in the direction of Vietnam later Monday.
“This is probably one of the strongest typhoons ever to hit the country,” Health Secretary Francisco Duqueso said at a news conference aired on Manila radio stations.
Police in Isabela province, about 205 miles northeast of Manila, reported a 29-year-old farmer drowned when his boat overturned amid strong currents. Radio DZBB reported a mother and child were killed in neighbouring Aurora province.
Nearly 30 northern and northeastern provinces were placed under a storm alert, school classes and government work were cancelled and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, on a visit to China, called for prayers Sunday. Domestic flights to the north also were cancelled.
Although the typhoon did not appear to be drenching the mudslide-prone area as badly as feared, rising rivers made some bridges impassable. Officials said water would be released from two major dams to prevent them from overflowing.
The typhoon threatened commemorations for All Saints’ Day on Wednesday, a public holiday when millions travel to cemeteries to remember their dead, some leaving days in advance for outlying provinces. Officials warned people to cancel trips to threatened areas.
“We know in our culture that we should visit our dead, but this is not an ordinary typhoon, it’s a super typhoon,” a government official, Graciano Yumul, warned.
The last time a typhoon this strong struck the Philippines was in December 2004, although in that case, the storm was deflected by a mountain range and casualties were minimal.
Last month, Typhoon Xangsane left 230 people dead and missing as it ripped through Manila and neighbouring provinces.
About 20 typhoon and tropical storms lash the country each year.