Typhoon Conson blew out of the Philippines on Thursday after killing at least 37 people, plunging the main northern island into darkness and leaving the new president fuming over forecasters’ failure to predict that the storm would slam into the capital.
Emergency crews restored electricity to Manila and nearby provinces on Luzon island as normalcy crept back. Flights resumed and schools reopened on Thursday. Authorities continued the search for 26 missing fishermen and started to repair the damage caused by the year’s first major typhoon.
Conson hit the north-eastern coast on Tuesday night, packing winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kilometers per hour) and gusts of 95 mph (150 kph). It blew out of the Philippines into the South China Sea on Thursday with sustained winds of about 55 mph (85 kph) per hour, government weather forecaster Gener Quiplong said.
Conson, which has now weakened into a tropical storm, is forecast to make another landfall along the Chinese—Vietnamese border this weekend.
The Philippines is hit by about 20 typhoons and storms a year, gaining a reputation as the welcome mat for the most destructive cyclones from the Pacific. Last year, back—to—back typhoons inundated Manila and outlying provinces, killing nearly 1,000 people.
Newly elected Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, in a nationally televised emergency meeting, flayed the weather bureau for failing to predict that Conson would hit Manila, which left government agencies unprepared for the onslaught.
On Thursday, navy, coast guard and policemen recovered the bodies of 14 fishermen at Bataan province, west of Manila. Nine died when a wayward oil barge slammed into their boats, which were moored near Mariveles town, the coast guard said.
The high winds and waves pulled up the barge’s anchor late Tuesday and sent the steel—hulled vessel hurtling toward about 10 fishing boats which were being secured by their owners and crews, regional coast guard chief Commodore Luis Tuason Jr. said.
“The fishing boats were hit like bowling pins,” he told The Associated Press.
Another barge loaded with cooking gas ran aground and smashed into 25 shanties in Manila’s Tondo slum district but caused no deaths, he said.
The bodies of five other fishermen were found at sea off Bataan, where their boats sank, he said.
In Rosario town in Cavite province, south of Manila, an oil tanker ran aground at the height of the typhoon and apparently struck and damaged an underwater oil pipe, causing a small spill close to a wharf which was being contained, Commodore Tuason Jr. said.
In all, 37 deaths were reported over six provinces and in a city near Manila.
More than 10,000 houses were destroyed or damaged and 9,500 people were moved to 54 evacuation centers, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.