Typhoon Utor death toll rises to eight

Updated 16 August 2013
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Typhoon Utor death toll rises to eight

MANILA: The confirmed death toll from Typhoon Utor rose to eight in the Philippines Thursday as the storm swept across southern China, where thousands had fled its path.
Utor left tens of thousands displaced and whole towns badly damaged when it raked across the north of the main Philippine island of Luzon on Monday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.
But the death toll was much lower than in past typhoons which killed hundreds, and council spokesman Reynaldo Balido said Filipinos were learning how to cope with about 20 storms that hit the country each year,
“People are aware of the danger and the risks of this kind of typhoon now, so they were able to conduct pre-emptive evacuations,” he said. Nevertheless, two men were swept away by a flash flood while two fishermen were killed as the typhoon smashed their boat that they had taken ashore to shelter from the cyclone, Balido said.
A man drowned while trying to save his water buffalo from being carried away by an overflowing river, another man drowned while rescuing relatives from floodwaters, and a man was crushed by a landslide.
A woman was swept away while standing on the roof of a house as rescue teams and neighbors watched helplessly, he said.
The government reported four other people missing, mostly fishermen who went to sea before the storm hit.
Although Utor was the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, packing gusts of 200 kilometers (124 miles) an hour, Balido said it was unlikely the death toll would go sharply higher as all the affected areas had reported in.
More than 83,000 people still need assistance, including thousands who lost their homes, he added.
Utor ripped the roofs off houses, government buildings and churches as it flattened crops and toppled trees in parts of the Philippines before heading out to the South China Sea.
Packing winds of up to 150 kilometers per hour at its center, it brushed past Hong Kong, where it forced the closure of financial markets, schools and businesses and disrupted hundreds of flights.
It also caused a 190-meter-long cargo ship to sink off Hong Kong Wednesday before making landfall in mainland China in the southern city of Yangjiang.
At least one person was confirmed dead and five were missing in southern China, state media said Thursday, as Utor dumped torrential rain on the area.
More than 88,000 residents of Maoming in Guangdong province were evacuated, the official Xinhua news agency said, but the victims were caught in flooding and mountain torrents
By Thursday the typhoon had weakened to a tropical depression as it moved northwards toward Hunan province, the Hong Kong Observatory said.
The Philippines is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to typhoons, as it is where storms often make landfall after they emerge from the Pacific Ocean and move west.
Over a thousand people were killed when Typhoon Bopha hit the southern Philippines in December, the deadliest storm in the world in 2012.


ASEAN may be forced to choose between US, China: Cambodia PM’s son

Updated 21 November 2018
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ASEAN may be forced to choose between US, China: Cambodia PM’s son

  • Cambodia has become an unlikely staging ground for geopolitical influence in Asia
  • The economic ripples of the trade spat between China and the US could destabilize global supply chain links in Southeast Asia

BANGKOK: Southeast Asian nations may soon have to “choose sides” between the US and China in their ongoing trade war, the political heir to Cambodia’s strongman ruler Hun Sen warned Wednesday in rare public comments.
Impoverished Cambodia has become an unlikely staging ground for geopolitical influence in Asia.
In recent years it has turned into a key China ally, heading off criticism of the superpower over its claims to disputed seas in exchange for billions of dollars in investment and loans.
While China has cozied up to Cambodia, the United States and the European Union have admonished Hun Sen, the nation’s ruler for 33 years, for his increasingly authoritarian rule.
In a rare speech outside of his country, his son, Hun Many warned the US-China trade spat may create lasting divisions in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Perhaps one day ASEAN would have to choose between US or China,” Hun Many said in Bangkok.
“How would we see the trade war spill or expanded in other areas? Surely it will pressure individual members of ASEAN or ASEAN as a whole to choose sides.”
The economic ripples of the trade spat between China and the US could destabilize global supply chain links in Southeast Asia, while a slump in Chinese spending would impact its trading partners.
Cambodia’s strongman Hun Sen has welcomed Chinese investment to pump-prime his country’s economy.
At the same time, he has accused the US of trying to foment revolution in Cambodia by supporting his critics.
Both the US and EU decried the July elections, which were held without a credible opposition and gave Hun Sen another term in power.
When asked which of the superpowers Cambodia would side with, the Australian-educated Hun Many demurred.
“At the end of the day, it depends on those who are involved to take a more responsible approach for their decisions that affects the entire world,” he said.
Earlier this week, Hun Sen swatted away concerns that Beijing will construct a naval base off the southwest coast of Cambodia, which would provide ready access to the disputed South China Sea.
Beijing claims most of the flashpoint area, infuriating the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan who all have competing claims to its islands and potentially resource-rich waters.
Hun Many, who described himself as a “proud son,” is widely believed to be in the running to one day replace his father.
His elder brother, Manit, is the head of a military intelligence unit while Manet, the oldest, was promoted in September to the chief of joint staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces as well as the commander of the infantry army headquarters.
But Many brushed aside the notion.
“It is way too soon to say that I am in the next generation of leaders,” he said.