(Update 1: changes head, adds details, lowers alert)
Manila, Sep 26 (EFE).- At least five people were killed and more than 74,000 evacuated following the passage of Typhoon Noru through the Philippines on Monday.
Noru, which made landfall in the northeast of the Philippine archipelago with winds of up to 185 kilometers per hour (115 miles per hour) on Sunday, has already left Luzon – the country’s largest and most populous island – in a westerly direction.
The victims were a part of a rescue team who were dragged through the waters while trying to evacuate residents from a neighborhood in the town of San Miguel de Bulacan, on Luzon Island early Monday.
Police officers told EFE that the victims were dragged down by the current after a nearby wall collapsed due to the torrential rains and severe flooding caused by the typhoon, which is now heading to Vietnam and Thailand.
The bodies of all five rescue workers were found early Monday after an hours-long search.
The Philippine weather service, PAGASA, has lowered by one level the tropical cyclone warning for Noru, which was declared a “super typhoon” with a maximum red alert in place before making landfall at “typhoon” with winds of up to 184 kilometers per hour.
At a press conference of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Monday, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said that large-scale damage and losses due to the natural disaster are unlikely due to evacuation and preparation work before the typhoon arrived.
“I think, we may have gotten lucky at this time, a little bit. I think it’s clear from what we did these last two days that is very very important is preparations, get people out of areas of danger,” he said.
Marcos surveyed the worst affected areas Monday by helicopter and said that overall the damage to public and private infrastructure was manageable.
On Sunday, about 14,000 families – some 74,000 people – were evacuated by authorities in the provinces of Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, and several cities in the northern metropolitan area of Manila, Civil Defense officials told the media.
Experts say that the higher-than-usual speed of 20 kph at which the typhoon traveled and the Sierra Madre mountain range, which lessened the intensity of the storm, have reduced its impact in the country.
However, there may be significant damage to fields. A first assessment shows that more than 75 percent of the rice crops on Luzon may have been affected, sources from the department of agriculture confirmed to EFE.
Noru is the 11th tropical cyclone this year to hit the Philippines, one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. EFE