Typhoon Megi clears Philippines, heads to China

Filipino authorities said initial estimates showed the super storm had damaged around one percent of the country`s unmilled rice crop.

Last Updated: Oct 19, 2010, 10:16 AM IST

Manila: Typhoon Megi cleared the Philippines` main island and headed toward China on Tuesday, and authorities said initial estimates showed the super storm had damaged around one percent of the country`s unmilled rice crop.

The agriculture department`s early assessment that around 105,000 tons, or 10 percent, of the Cagayan valley`s annual crop had been damaged was well below a worst-case scenario of more than 230,000 tons.

The northern area accounts for about 12 percent of national production. The Philippines is the world`s biggest rice importer and damage from the typhoon could see it buy more than had been expected for 2011, which could push up international prices.

Megi, known locally as Juan, was a category 5 super typhoon with winds in excess of 250 kph (155 mph) when it slammed into the northeastern Luzon, the country`s main island, shortly before noon on Monday.

The national disaster agency put the death toll so far at 10, a low tally for such a strong typhoon in the country. Fuller assessments of the damage were expected on Tuesday, although the typhoon had cut power and communications in many areas.

The government appeared to have prepared for the storm, evacuating some 7,000 people and sending trucks and other vehicles to help with rescue and relief operations.

In July, a typhoon killed 102 people after it unexpectedly changed direction and sliced through Manila, cutting power across the city of 12 million people. That storm prompted President Benigno Aquino to sack the chief weather forecaster.

After clearing the Philippines, Megi is expected to regain some strength over the South China Sea. Tropical Storm Risk`s (http://www.tropicalstormrisk.com) projections show the storm is expected to turn away from Vietnam toward China, with the centre passing between Hainan island and Hong Kong.

China`s National Meteorological Centre said on Monday Megi may be the worst to hit the country this year, and urged local governments to make full preparations for extreme weather.

Some 140,000 people have been evacuated from 15 cities on Hainan island since heavy rains reached the province on Friday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.

Bureau Report