Nearly 300,000 displaced by storm as fatalities reported from across country’s north; damage to country’s agriculture sector thought to be P4.65 billion


By Hader Glang and Roy Ramos

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – The death toll from Typhoon Koppu’s onslaught has reached 18 as it continues to sweep across the Philippines north, the country’s emergency body has reported.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director Alexander Pama told a press briefing Tuesday afternoon that 18 fatalities had been reported across the north of the country and 560,570 people were affected nationwide.

Of those affected, 107,719 individuals remain sheltered in evacuation centers.

The Philippines weather bureau said the cyclone had made landfall early Sunday and was forecast to remain within the Philippines area of responsibility until Oct. 25.

As of 10 a.m. Tuesday (0200GMT), Typhoon Koppu — locally known as Lando — has been downgraded to a tropical storm, and was slowly moving toward the Calayan and Babuyan archipelagoes at the northernmost point of the country.

The cyclone contained maximum sustained winds of 85 kilometers per hour (53 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 100 kph. It was moving northeast at 4 kph.

On Tuesday, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council pegged the cost of damage to the country’s agriculture sector at P4.65 billion ($100 million).

The province of Nueva Ecija in central Luzon, considered as Philippines’ rice granary, was hardest hit.

Marasigan said that 184 buildings had been totally destroyed, that there had been 497 reports of flooding across the country’s north, and that 24 bridges remain impassable due to flooding and landslides.

Power outages have still not been resolved in five provinces and three cities.

Koppu is the 24th named storm of 2015 in the northwest Pacific Ocean and the 15th to reach typhoon strength.

The Philippines suffers around 20 typhoons and storms each year, many of them deadly.

In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan — one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded — struck the country’s central islands, leaving more than 8,000 people dead, missing and injured.