Pacific: Philippines fight against supertaifun "Mangkhut"

Pacific: Philippines fight against supertaifun "Mangkhut"

56 000 inhabitants have been evacuated by civil protection in recent days. Almost a million people live in endangered areas.
 Two rescue workers die in one of the many landslides.
 The Philippine president refused to visit the crisis region.



    "The disaster is not over yet," said Richard Gordon, "People need to resume their lives and we try to do our best." Gordon is chairman of the Red Cross in the Philippines. On Saturday afternoon local time (around 9 pm CEST) he gave a press conference and warned, "We should stay careful and attentive."


    Gordon knew that the effects of the so-called Supertaifun Mangkhut are not yet officially known in his country. The center of Mangkhut, called Ompong in the Philippines, has been moving towards the northern island of Luzon for days, making it the strongest typhoon so far this year. In the night of Saturday, he came across land. According to weather experts, the gusting may have reached speeds of up to 300 km / h in gusts. In the affected provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, he has caused serious damage. How bad the situation is, however, will be known only gradually.

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Ricard Jalad, head of the Philippine Civil Protection Council, has so far confirmed the deaths of two rescue workers. The death toll could still increase. The two women were the victims of a landslide, police found the bodies after a slumped by the rainfall slope had slipped. So far, there have been 42 such landslides, at least five main roads and bridges should therefore be impassable.


    The airport in the city of Tuguegarao is apparently badly damaged, windows have burst and the roof has collapsed. The shipping traffic was stopped, more than 4500 passengers are stuck in different ports. Due to the difficult traffic situation, state authorities and aid organizations have not yet reached many affected areas.


    About five million people live in Cagayan and Isabela. 56 000 inhabitants have been evacuated by civil protection in recent days. One employee reported that nearly a million people live on the coast, where heavy storm surges were expected. The houses are often made of lightweight materials and can hardly withstand the typhoon. Residents have tried to stone their roofs with stones and barricade the windows with wood.


    Manila Electric Co. reports that more than 400,000 people in the region are out of power, and several routes have been destroyed by the storm. In pictures one sees bent power pylons, as well as masses fallen trees. In addition, the rivers are threatening due to the heavy rains.


    As the weather platform reports, Mangkhut reached the highest category 5 for 84 hours, which was probably unique since the beginning of the satellite observations in the early 1970s. The typhoon was three times larger than the hurricane Florence hit in the eastern United States before arriving in the Philippines, the eye of the typhoon had measured 70 kilometers alone, the entire cloud of clouds had a diameter of 2000 kilometers.


    "Humanitarian Mangkhut is the more serious event"


    Mangkhut, according to experts, is far more dangerous than Hurricane Florence, which is currently raging on the East Coast of the United States. "Humanitarian Mangkhut is the more serious event," said Ernst Rauch, Head of Climate Research of the world's largest reinsurer Munich Re. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan killed 6,000 people in the Philippines "because the population's warning and preparation was inadequate," says Rauch. "Mangkhut will be a bar, if something has improved there."


    The greatest danger is the mass of water brought by the storm. For insurance, Florence will be more relevant, "as in developed industrialized countries typically a large part of the damage is insured," said Rauch. "It's about 30 to 50 percent in the US In developing and emerging countries, typically less than 10 percent of the damage is insured." This means "that more than 90 percent of the economic burden ends up on the shoulders of those affected".


    Despite the disaster, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has decided not to travel to the affected areas. Duterte said he can not be anywhere but send two of his ministers to Cagayan and Isabela. Duted government is under pressure, with inflation rising to 6.4 percent in August, its highest level since 2009. Among other things, prices for staple foods such as fish, rice, meat and vegetables are rising sharply. To this end, the government also increased the excise duty on so-called "sin products" – sinful products – such as alcohol and tobacco. The Duterte government is highly controversial internationally, mainly because of the war on drugs it has called. Duterte is openly threatened with death by drug users and distributors, and observers have been denouncing thousands of victims in recent years, especially street children and petty criminals.


    Commenting on recent price increases, Finance Minister Carlos Dominguez said, "For some people, that may be a serious problem, but the nation as a whole is not a big crisis." The Typhoon Mangkhut could increase the problems now. Observers estimate the damage and the resulting setbacks for the local economy to be billions of euros, which in the Philippines would mean a few percent of the gross domestic product.


    About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines annually. One of the strongest in recent years was Haiyan, in November 2013 more than 6300 people died during the storm, leaving more than four million homes lost.


    Meanwhile, the typhoon Mangkhut continues northwest. In the meantime he had weakened significantly over the Philippines. But experts expect that he will regain strength over the up to 30 degrees warm Pacific. The city of Hong Kong is already preparing for the arrival of Mangkhut, the storm is scheduled to start Saturday night local time, the worst threatens during the Sunday.


    With material from dpa and Bloomberg

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