MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Rescuers on speedboats hauled rain-soaked residents off rooftops in the Philippine countryside on Wednesday, December 16, after Typhoon Nona (international name Melor) killed at least 11 people and cut power for millions.
The typhoon, which tore in off the Pacific Ocean on Monday afternoon, caused widespread flooding across central islands and also dumped heavy rain on the sprawling capital of Manila.
The worst appeared to be over on Wednesday with the typhoon drifting into the South China Sea. But farming and fishing communities on Mindoro island south of Manila were still enduring heavy flooding.
Floodwaters rose sharply across parts of Mindoro on Tuesday night, forcing residents to climb onto the roofs of their homes, according to Alfonso Umali, governor of Oriental Mindoro province on the eastern half of the island which has a total population of 1.2 million.
"The floods have begun to subside but there are still people on their roofs. Many homes were damaged. We are going to the areas on board the coast guard's rubber boats today," Umali said on DZMM radio.
Coast guard personnel on speed boats hauled 21 people, including 14 children and a three-month-old baby, from rooftops in Calapan, the capital of Oriental Mindoro, on Tuesday night.
"They were drenched from the rain and crying for help. The rescue was difficult because of the strong currents," according to a coast guard report, which said rescue work was continuing on Wednesday.
Intense rain in Manila on Tuesday night submerged some roads and caused traffic chaos, although flooding in the megacity of 12 million had subsided by Wednesday morning.
The death toll climbed to 11 on Wednesday after local authorities in Mindoro and neighbouring Romblon, a chain of three small islands known for its marble reserves, reported six deaths.
The national disaster council also reported one more death due to drowning on Samar, an impoverished island of 1.5 million people in the eastern Philippines where Melor first made landfall.
Five people have now been confirmed killed on Samar.
Millions of people were also without power in the eastern Philippines and the central islands, with no guarantees electricity would be restored before Christmas.
And 226,000 people remained in storm shelters, the national disaster council said.
"This is going to be a sad Christmas for us," said governor Umali.
Meanwhile, the weather bureau said it was monitoring another storm brewing over the Pacific and heading towards the main southern island of Mindanao.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons a year, many of them deadly, with the strongest often happening towards the end of the year.
The most recent deadly storm to hit the country, 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. – Rappler.com