Philippine Capital Opens as Typhoon Rammasun Heads Toward China

Jul 16, 2014 7:35 pm ET

July 17 (Bloomberg) -- Philippine financial markets and government offices will open today after the strongest cyclone to hit the capital in eight years moved out to sea, leaving at least 20 people dead and millions still without electricity.

Typhoon Rammasun is headed toward China or Vietnam, state weather forecaster Alvin Pura said. The storm was over the South China Sea, packing maximum winds of 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph) and gusts of as much as 170 kph, the national weather bureau said in its 11 p.m. advisory yesterday. It will depart Philippine territory this morning.

About 56 percent of Manila Electric Co.’s 5 million customers were still without supply, the nation’s largest power retailer said in a 9 p.m. advisory yesterday. It didn’t say when service would be fully restored, citing downed poles and outages in National Grid Corp’s transmission lines. Government offices and markets were shut yesterday as Rammasun lashed Luzon island, including the capital, leaving a trail of topped trees, electric posts and about 420,000 people fleeing their homes.

Rammasun’s wrath was “nowhere near the magnitude of Yolanda,” Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson told a press briefing yesterday, referring to Super Typhoon Haiyan which killed more than 6,200 people in November. The Philippines, battered by cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean, is the second most-at-risk nation globally from tropical storms, after Japan, according to research company Maplecroft.

Schools Shut

Typhoon Xangsane, with top winds of 193 kilometers per hour, left at least 184 people dead after hitting Manila and nearby provinces in 2006. Haiyan, the strongest cyclone in the world to hit land, had maximum winds of almost 315 kilometers per hour.

Thirteen of the 20 people killed were hit by falling trees or collapsed walls, according to the 6 p.m. report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Five were missing and 7 injured, it said.

Schools in most cities in greater Manila will remain closed today, according to a government website. The provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte were placed under a state of calamity.

A brewing storm has been identified in the Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines, the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center and the Japan Meteorological Agency said on their websites. As many as 10 typhoons may develop or enter the Southeast Asian nation this quarter.