Typhoon Melor: three people dead as blizzard lashes the Philippines

Millions left without power as typhoons heavy rain and strong winds pound the Bicol peninsula and Romblon islands

Typhoon Melor engraved through the central Philippines on Tuesday, bringing heavy rain and strong breezes that left millions without power and at the least three people dead, officials said.

One person succumbed of hypothermia while two others drowned in deluges in the fishing township of Catarman in Northern Samar province in the Visayas region south of Manila, municipal catastrophe policeman Jonathan Baldo told DZMM radio.

The storm toppled trees and cut energy to at least seven provinces, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council( NDRRMC) said.

Christmas lanterns and lightings, tin roof and branches littered the streets of the city of Legazpi, which was battered by strong winds.

People who fled from their coastal homes expended a sleepless night in evacuation centres, sprawled on classroom tables and chairs as flying rubble swirled around outside.

Residents at an evacuation centre in Legazpi city, central . Photograph: Roldano Amaranto/ AP

Melor whipped the vast Bicol peninsula, with a population of 5.4 million people, overnight before slamming into the Romblon islands on Tuesday .

Gusts had weakened somewhat by Tuesday morning but were still recorded at 170 km( 106 miles) per hour, from 185 km per hour on Monday. The storm is envisaged to weaken farther as it heads to Mindoro island and out into the later Tuesday, country weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the typhoon-prone Bicol region, where 720, 000 people were evacuated as early as the weekend.

We have zero inundations, zero deaths, zero casualties, Albay governor Joey Salceda told ABS-CBN television.

What we are asking for is the early restoration of energy, he said, adding the entire province of 1.2 million people was without power.

Authorities were assessing Melors damage while bracing for another cyclone brewing east of Mindanao, the countrys main southern island, said NDRRMC spokeswoman Mina Marasigan.

Bad weather forced the cancellation of 16 domestic flights on Tuesday, adding to the 56 flights cancelled on Monday, the NDRRMC said.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 cyclones a year, many of them deadly, with the strongest happening towards the end of the year.

The last deadly storm to reach the country this year, Koppu, killed 54 people and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes after it pummelled rice-growing northern provinces in October.

In November 2013, one of the strongest typhoons on record, Haiyan, flattened entire communities in the central region with tsunami-like waves, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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