Typhoon Koppu which is battering the northern Philippines has now claimed two lives with the death toll expected to rise as the EU "stands ready to help". Hundreds are now missing and more than 20,000 estimated to have abandoned their homes in one of the largest natural disasters in the history of the islands.
Local media report that at least 10 people are dead although this cannot be independently corroborated. Army troops and police are part of a rescue mission for residents trapped in flooded villages in the provinces of Aurora, where the typhoon made landfall on Sunday. Nueva Ecija, a rice-growing province has also been hit hard, as floodwaters having swamped rice farmlands during harvest time, according to CBC News.
Christos Stylianides, European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management at the EU said that his department was "closely monitoring" the situation and assessment of Typhoon Koppu. He said that the EU "stands ready to help" if emergency measures are needed.
The storm hit the land near the town of Casiguran on the island of Luzon and has been blasting through the islands at up to 200km. Local media reported downed trees and power pylons in Aurora province along with Isabela province and power has been cut in those areas. Landslides and overflowing rivers have also been caused by torrential rains dumped by the typhoon and several roads are now cut off in mountainous areas and farmland close to rivers.
The typhoon is now abating but authorities are said to still fear more flooding and heavy rain is likely to fall in some areas for several days. Alexander Pama, head of the government's main disaster agency told AFP: "I must emphasise that this is just the start. People must remain alert while we try to pick up the pieces in areas already hit." The authorities, including police and rescue workers, are now believed to be at breaking point as they deal with the fallout of the disaster.
The Joint Cyclone Center said on its Twitter feed: Typhoon #Koppu lashed to hit Cabanatuan City, Philippines with catastrophic flooding and mudslides.