After 13 die in Philippines, typhoon takes aim at China

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The Soriano family, from right, Rolly, his wife Elvira and children Ruben, foreground, and Rhea, stand in what used to be their home Tuesday at Delfin Albano township, a day after typhoon Megi destroyed their home as it barreled through Isabela province in northeastern Philippines. (Bullit Marquez ~ Associated Press)

CAUAYAN, Philippines -- A super typhoon that killed 13 people and flattened forests and crops in the northern Philippines dumped heavy rains on the capital Tuesday as it headed across the sea toward southern China.

Typhoon Megi struck the Philippines on Monday with ferocious winds of 140 mph, but initial assessments showed relatively light damage and casualties, partly because the storm struck sparsely populated areas. Philippine officials also cited their emergency preparations days ahead of the storm.

Food vendor Nesie Callaotit, her husband and two children were hurriedly packing clothes to flee to safety when the wind yanked off half of their tin roof, exposing their house in northeastern Isabela province to pounding rain and the horrifying wind.

They held on to a wooden post for three hours, weeping and praying together, until the torrents eased.

"All of us were in tears," the 40-year-old Callaotit said. "We thought it was our last day together."

Residents sift through the debris of their damaged homes Tuesday Oct. 19, 2010 at Ilagan township, Isabela province in northeastern Philippines, a day after typhoon Megi (local name "Juan") barreled through Isabela province in northeastern Philippines. The super typhoon dumped heavy rains over the Philippine capital Tuesday after killing at least 10 people, creating a wasteland of fallen trees in the north and sending thousands scrambling to safety in near-zero visibility. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

After it exited into the South China Sea on Tuesday, Megi was almost stationary packing winds of 108 mph but was forecast to regain strength before its expected landfall in southern China on Thursday. Chinese authorities evacuated 140,000 people from a coastal province.

Isabela province in the northeast Philippines, Megi's entry point, bore the brunt of the Typhoon Megi's destruction while more than 8,000 people rode out the typhoon in sturdy school buildings, town halls, churches and relatives' homes.

Roads in and out of the coastal province were deserted and blocked by collapsed trees, power lines and debris.

Iron-sheet roofs on many of the houses were blown away. In Tamauini town, Ariel Marzan said he escaped just minutes before his house tumbled amid winds so strong his roof was swept into a nearby rice field 30 yards away.

"I didn't expect it to be so strong," he said as he surveyed the damage and picked up the strewn pieces of his household.

Nearby coconut and banana groves were flattened.

At least 13 deaths in Cagayan, Isabela and Pangasinan provinces were blamed on the typhoon, including at least six drownings.

In Pangasinan province, a mother, her daughter and son were pinned to death when a tree collapsed on their house, disaster official Eugene Cabrera said.

Even as the typhoon moved away, its massive outer bands still stretched over much of western Luzon and drenched the capital, Manila, and surrounding areas.

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