Typhoon Nesat pounded the Philippines' main island on Tuesday, lashing crop-growing provinces and bringing the capital to a near standstill as it flooded roads, cut power supplies and closed financial markets, government offices, transport and schools.
At least seven people, including a 22-month-old boy, died in the storm, with four missing, the disaster agency said.
Nesat was a category 3 typhoon with winds of around 200 km per hour (125 mph) when it hit the northern provinces of Luzon island just before dawn on Tuesday, Tropical Storm Risk said.
It lost some strength as it moved west northwest across Luzon at about 20 kph, and the center was expected to clear the northwest coast later on Tuesday, although rains and winds would linger.
"We cannot give any estimate of damage at the moment because the typhoon is still battering many provinces," said Benito Ramos, head of the national disaster agency.
Large portions of the capital Manila, a city of 13 million, were without power. Officials shut some rail networks as a precaution after high winds cut power lines and toppled electric posts. A number of flights were also canceled.
"This is only a temporary shut-off, so that there will be no accidents, no short circuit, because if electric posts are toppled, there might be short circuits," Ramos said earlier.
Strong winds uprooted trees and tore off some billboards along major roads. Debris blocked roads in the capital and provinces, and officials warned of the risk of landslides from heavy rains in mountainous regions.
The waters of Manila Bay overflowed onto Roxas Boulevard, flooding streets and parks around the U.S. embassy, central bank and finance department, with the water waist deep in parts. A radio report said the upmarket Sofitel hotel in the area was partly flooded, with buses brought in to move guests.
Manila residents in low-lying areas waded through floods to seek higher ground and evacuation centers. Winds tore the tin roof from a gymnasium used as an evacuation center in the poor, crowded Tondo district in the capital, sending evacuees scampering for new shelter.
Photo shows fishermen standing at the scene of a cargo ship washed ashore at the sea port in Navotas city, north of Manila September 27, 2011, after Typhoon Nesat, locally known as Pedring, hit the capital, Manila.
Credit: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
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