MANILA, PHILIPPINES: A powerful storm, Typhoon Doksuri, unleashed its fury on the northern Philippines on Wednesday, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
With maximum sustained wind speeds of 175 kilometres per hour, the typhoon toppled trees, disrupted power supply, and brought heavy rainfall, forcing thousands to seek refuge with neighbours or in emergency evacuation centres.
The Philippine state weather agency issued a dire warning of “violent, life-threatening conditions” as the typhoon ravaged the lightly populated region.
Doksuri had been classified as a super typhoon while traversing the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, but fortunately weakened as it approached the Philippines.
Rey Aguinaldo, a retired government official residing in the coastal municipality of Pasuquin in Ilocos Norte province, described the harrowing experience, stating, “The wind and rain were so strong overnight I could not sleep well. When I got up today, I saw fallen trees and broken branches outside. We have no electricity.”
Authorities acted swiftly, evacuating around 12,000 people from their homes in Cagayan province, with 431 residents from the Babuyan islands being moved to safety.
The decision came after warnings of potentially disastrous three-meter high storm surges. Ruelie Rapsing, a provincial disaster official, informed AFP about the situation, indicating that some residents sought refuge with neighbors who lived in sturdy concrete houses, while others found shelter in municipal halls.
Rapsing recounted the extent of the damage, saying, “The roof of the Sanchez Mira municipal hall was blown off, and the windows of an evacuation center there also broke, so we had to move the evacuees to multi-purpose halls back in their villages.”
Despite the widespread devastation, there have been no reports of casualties so far. The evacuation efforts, coupled with timely warnings and preparedness, played a crucial role in preventing loss of life.
As the typhoon now weakens, it is projected to head across the South China Sea towards southeastern China.
However, the affected communities in the northern Philippines will need significant support to recover from the storm’s aftermath. Relief organizations and the government are working together to provide aid and assistance to those impacted.
The Philippines, located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, is no stranger to natural disasters.
The country faces an annual average of 20 typhoons, making disaster preparedness and response efforts crucial to minimize the impact on vulnerable communities.