Typhoon Kammuri pounds the Philippines and closes Manila airport
MANILA: On Tuesday it hit the Philippines with fierce winds and heavy rains, as hundreds of thousands took refuge in shelters and the capital, Manila, closed its international airport for security reasons.
The powerful storm, which exploded in the windows and cut the roofs, roared ashore on Monday night and was due to pass south of Manila, home to some 13 million people, and thousands of athletes in the region.
Meteorologists said Kammuri had weakened but remained strong, with sustained winds of up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, and maximum gusts of 205 km/h as it moved northwest.
We are still assessing the damage, but it seems to be serious, said Luisito Mendoza, a disaster official in the city where the storm hit the ground.
There is a place where water levels reached the ceiling ... our own staff was hit by broken glass, he added, saying that many trees and power poles were knocked down by the wind.
Due to the high winds, Manila was closed for operations, the general manager of the airport authority, Ed Monreal, told AFP.
It was not clear when the flights would resume, but authorities gave an estimate of 11:00 pm (1500 GMT) on Tuesday and said their decision would depend on the weather.
Almost 500 flights were canceled and authorities warned passengers not to come to the airport.
One of the terminals that visited AFP, which would normally be full of departures in the morning, was occupied by a handful of staff and stranded passengers.
A traveler, Canadian Constance Benoit, 23, suffered a delay of almost a day on her flight back home.
He had arrived in Manila on a flight hit by a typhoon on Monday morning from the central island of Cebu.
It was the most turbulent flight I took in my life, he told AFP. I just discovered what air sickness is.
Some 340,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the central region of Bicol, disaster officials said.
People living in the slums of the slums of Manila were told to leave their makeshift homes as a precaution, but it was not clear how many people were affected.
The Philippines is affected by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hundreds and placing people in disaster-prone areas in a state of constant poverty.
The deadliest cyclone in the country was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.
Kammuri had already growled some plans for the SEA Games, which began on Saturday and are scheduled for December 11 in Manila and its surroundings.
Windsurfing competition was stopped as a precaution and triathlon events were held earlier than scheduled.
Ramón Suzara, the operations director of the organizing committee, said Monday organizers wanted the competitions to continue.
Like (for) volleyball, it will continue as long as there is power supply and the equipment and technical officers are safe, we will continue but without spectators, he added.
The storm is another difficulty for the Games, which suffered a series of logistical failures and a last-minute construction avalanche in the period before Saturday's opening.
The competition, which spans three main sites that are separated by hours, includes a game that records 56 sports and dozens of places.
Around 8,750 athletes and team officials are expected in the thirtieth edition of this year, the largest ever, along with 12,000 other volunteers.