Thousands flee as Typhoon Kammuri churns toward Philippines

Nearly 70,000 people have already fled their homes in the Bicol region of central Philippines, which is where the typhoon is expected to make landfall. (AFP)
Updated 02 December 2019

Thousands flee as Typhoon Kammuri churns toward Philippines

  • Typhoon Kammuri is expected to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday in the nation’s east
  • The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year

MANILA: The Philippines was braced for powerful Typhoon Kammuri as the storm churned closer, forcing evacuations and threatening plans for the Southeast Asian Games events near the capital Manila.
Kammuri is expected to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday in the nation’s east with heavy rains and wind gusts of up to 185 kilometers per hour, forecasters said.
The storm is on track to then pass close to Manila, which is home to some 13 million people and the site for many of the SEA Games competitions.
Nearly 70,000 people have already fled their homes in the Bicol region, which is where the typhoon is expected to make landfall.
“We hope there won’t be any damage, but given its (Kammuri’s) strength, we can’t avoid it,” Mark Timbal, spokesman for the national disaster agency, said.
“We have preemptively evacuated people in areas that are in the storm’s direct path.”
The weather bureau also warned of rain-induced landslides and possible storm surges of up to three meters (10 feet) which could hit coastal areas in the nation’s east.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hundreds and putting people in disaster-prone areas in a state of constant poverty.
The country’s deadliest cyclone on record was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.
Kammuri is already snarling plans for the SEA Games, which opened Saturday for thousands of athletes from the region and is set to run through December 11 in and around Manila.
Windsurfing was canceled and triathlon events were held earlier than scheduled. Organizers are due to deliver an update on the impact later on Monday.
Organizers have insisted they have contingency plans in place, including allowing indoor events to proceed but with attendance limited to competitors.
The storm is the latest trouble for the SEA Games, which saw a series of transport snafus and a rush of last-minute construction ahead of the opening.
This year’s Games in Clark, Manila and Subic are already particularly complex, with a record 56 sports across dozens of venues that are in some cases hours apart by car.
Around 8,750 athletes and team officials are expected at this year’s 30th edition — the biggest ever — along with another 12,000 volunteers. Organizers hope more than 500 million viewers will tune in on TV by the end of competition on December 11.
In an eclectic program, Olympic sports like swimming and athletics sit side-by-side with regional favorites such as martial arts, and this year athletes will even battle an obstacle race course in Manila.


HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

Updated 10 August 2020

HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

  • Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing

HONG KONG: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested over suspected collusion with foreign forces under the new national security law, his top aide said on Twitter, in what is the highest-profile arrest yet under the legislation.
Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing, which imposed the sweeping new law on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western countries.
The new security law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
Critics say it crushes freedoms in the semiautonomous city, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged pro-democracy protests last year.
“Jimmy Lai is being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time,” Mark Simon, a senior executive at Lai’s media company Next Digital, which publishes local tabloid Apple Daily, said early on Monday.
Police did not immediately comment.
Lai was also arrested this year on illegal assembly charges, along with other leading activists, relating to protests last year.
In an interview with Reuters in May, Lai pledged to stay in Hong Kong and continue to fight for democracy even though he expected to be one of the targets of the new legislation.