Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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Tropical storm leaves thousands displaced in the Philippines

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A tropical storm hit the northern Philippines on Wednesday, leaving at least three injured and thousands displaced, as well as forcing authorities to close schools and government offices in the capital and several provinces prone to flooding and landslides.

Ma-on weakened slightly after sweeping through mountainous northern provinces and left the country overnight with sustained winds of 95 kilometers (59 miles) per hour and gusts up to 115 km/h (71 mph). The meteor had made landfall in the town of Maconacon, in the province of Isabela, on Tuesday morning, according to meteorologists.

The storm could gain strength offshore as it heads toward southern China, they added.

Although the battering of the meteor was felt mainly in the extreme north of the Luzon region, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. suspended classes in all public schools and closed government offices from Tuesday to Wednesday in the densely populated metropolis of Manila and in several adjoining regions as a precautionary measure due to localized flooding and strong winds.

“The heavy rains pose a potential risk to the population,” said press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles.

The suspension of classes was ordered after millions of primary and secondary students physically returned to classrooms across the country on Monday, the first time after two years of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The storm was one of the ongoing problems education officials grapple with, along with a shortage of classrooms, an alarming rate of illiteracy among children and the lingering threat of COVID-19 following the decision to resume in-person classes.

Three villagers were injured and taken to hospitals after being hit by fallen trees in Cagayan province, said Rueli Rapsin, an emergency official. In that region alone, more than 7,000 people were evacuated from towns prone to flash floods, landslides and tidal waves, she added.

Some of the provinces hardest hit by the storm were still recovering from the devastation caused by a powerful earthquake last month, raising fears of more landslides.

The Philippines records about 20 typhoons and tropical storms each year. The archipelago is located on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire”, a region of earthquake faults and volcanoes in the ocean basin that makes the country one of the most disaster-prone.

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