Alert as typhoon nears Philippines

Typhoon Lupit "weakening" as officials continue to battle aftermath of earlier storms.

    Typhoon Lupit has been hovering over the ocean off the Philippines for several days [AFP]

    Typhoons usually hit the northern Philippines from the Pacific and exit through the South China Sea.

    Dubbed the "welcome mat for typhoons", the Philippines usually gets about 20 a year during the storm season from June to December.

    'Zero casualties'

    See also

    Typhoons: Asia's mega-storms

    As authorities braced for Lupit's arrival, the government has said it was determined the typhoon would cause "zero casualties" following the high death toll and damage left by two earlier storms.

    Officials have been distributing canned goods and other aid, while rescue boats and helicopters have been placed on standby.

    Lupit is more powerful than Tropical Storm Ketsana, which brought days of heavy rains triggering the worst flooding in 40 years in and around the capital Manila in late September.

    Ketsana killed at least 420 people, while a week later Typhoon Parma left at least 438 dead across the north of the country.

    Thousands of people displaced by those storms remain in evacuation centres, as clean-up and reconstruction work gets underway.

    In Manila the government has also called for international assistance to fight an outbreak of a deadly infectious disease following the storms, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday.

    Disease outbreak

    The government has called for foreign help as disease outbreaks take their toll [Reuters]
    According to Filipino health authorities - leptospirosis - a bacterial infection, has infected at least 1,963 people and killed 148.

    The outbreak occurred in several areas of Manila which remain flooded nearly four weeks after Ketsana struck the capital.

    A WHO statement said the government has "requested for a Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network mission to provide assistance in the management of the outbreak of Leptospirosis as a result of the continued exposure of affected populations to floodwaters".

    With 1.28 million residents still living in flooded areas, the Philippines health department estimates 1.7 million people "are at high-risk [of] exposure" to the disease and up to 3,800 could eventually be infected, the WHO said.

    The disease, which is transmitted mainly by exposure to contaminated animal urine in water in flooded areas, can lead to renal failure.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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