According to Reuters, wide areas of the central Philippines were plunged into darkness on Tuesday as powerful typhoon Melor barreled into the coconut-growing region, causing flooding, storm surges and forcing almost 800,000 people to evacuate their homes, officials said.
About 40 domestic flights were grounded, while 73 ferries and hundreds of fishing boats were ordered to remain in port as Typhoon Melor hit the northern tip of Samar, a farming island, with winds of up to 185 kilometres per hour, reported ABC.
Melor later crossed the central Burias Island, with authorities warning traditional thatched homes were unlikely to withstand the strong winds and that crops may suffer heavy losses.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, but videos posted on social media showed strong winds uprooting trees and shaking houses.
Melor, known locally as Typhoon Nona, was expected to roll across nearby islands before striking the mainland close to Sorsogon, a province south-east of Manila on the heavily populated island of Luzon.
— ciara rezabaezahapin (@ciararezab) December 14, 2015
“Melor will continue to weaken as it crosses the central Philippines into Tuesday,” weather provider Accuweather said. “However, damaging wind gusts higher than 130 kph will target the rest of southern Luzon to Mindoro.”
Romblon residents reported heavy rain and strong winds from midnight. Power was cut as transmission lines and electric posts came down.
Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said nearly 800,000 people had been evacuated to shelter areas.
“So far, we have not received any report of typhoon-related casualties,” he said.
Media reported that three people had been killed on Samar island, where Melor first made landfall on Monday, although this could not immediately be confirmed.
Power services in six central provinces were disrupted and emergency teams were assessing damage to agriculture and infrastructure, Pama said.
Schools and some offices were closed. Dozens of domestic flights and ferry services were cancelled, and the fishing fleet took shelter due to waves as high as 14 metres (46 ft).