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Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

Philippines defends error-filled peso notes

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2010 at 6:27 am

MANILA, Dec 20, 2010 (AFP) – The Philippines on Monday defended its new peso notes, mocked by critics for featuring error-strewn maps of the country and apparently inventing a new species of parrot.


The central bank started shipping the bills to banks last Friday and they should be publicly available by Christmas, deputy governor Diwa Gunigundo said.


He defended the artistic rendition of Philippine maps appearing on the 20-, 50-, 100-, 200-, 500-, and 1,000-peso notes (45 US cents-22.59 dollars), which excluded the Batanes islands near Taiwan and misplaced some of the country’s top tourist draws.

(AFP) Handout photo taken on December 16, 2010 and received from the Malacanang Photo Bureau (MPB) on December 18 shows Philippine President Benigno Aquino (C), Governor and Monetary Board Chairman Amando Tetangco Jr (L), and National Treasurer Roberto Tan displaying the new 500 peso notes.

“If we want to make the Philippine map that specific and accurate we would have had to draw all 7,000 islands,” Gunigundo said in an interview on DZBB radio.


“What we wanted to do was abstract the general location of all these important parts of the Philippines,” he said.


Map makers, including one of the experts drafted to delineate the boundaries of the Tubbataha Reefs natural park in 1994, have pointed out that the spectacular coral formation was misplaced by hundreds of kilometres (miles).


Gunigundo also defended the rendering of a rare native bird, the blue-naped parrot, on the 500-peso bill, saying it was patterned after the yellow colour scheme of the denomination.


The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, a birdwatchers’ organisation, has insisted the yellow-beaked parrot on the note does not exist anywhere in the country, since in real life the blue-naped parrot has a red beak.


“It took us three years to research (the design),” Gunigundo said, brushing off allegations of slipshod preparation.


The head of the government’s National Historical Institute was an adviser to the bank’s numismatic committee, he added.


“Our local artists who designed our six denominations also did research and they consulted many of our experts in the Philippines.”


More important than the design are the new bills’ security features to make their duplication by counterfeiters much more difficult, Gunigundo said.


It is not the first time the central bank has been left red-faced over currency design. It was forced in 2005 to withdraw bills that misspelled the name of Gloria Arroyo, the predecessor of current President Benigno Aquino, whose signature appears on the new legal tender.


The 2005 bill, which called her Gloria Arrovo, became a much sought-after collectors’ item.

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Source: SGGP

Pleas for justice as Philippines mourns massacre victims

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 4:51 am

SHARIFF AGUAK, Philippines, Nov 23, 2010 (AFP) – Relatives of 57 people killed in the Philippines’ worst political massacre made emotional appeals for justice Tuesday as the nation marked the slaughter’s first anniversary.


Thousands of mourners gathered at a remote hill in the southern province of Maguindanao where the carnage took place to pay their respects and demand the powerful Muslim clan accused of orchestrating the massacre be held to account.

Supporters along with relatives of the 57 people killed in the November 23, 2009 massacre attend a memorial service at the massacre site in Ampatuan, Maguindanao province on the southern island of Mindanao on November 23, 2010. AFP

“I am praying by the will of God that we can get justice,” Tom Teuto, 50, who lost his sister and 13 other relatives in the massacre, told reporters at the site on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Shariff Aguak.


“I am calling on the president to intervene. It has been a year. It has been very painful.”


The Ampatuan clan, which had governed Maguindanao since 2001, allegedly orchestrated the murders of at least 57 people in a futile bid to stop a member of a rival Muslim clan from running for the provincial governorship.


Those killed were relatives and supporters of the rival, Esmael Mangudadatu, who were to have filed his election nomination papers, as well as at least 32 local journalists who had travelled in the convoy.


Their bodies were later found in shallow pits, and witnesses who have testified in an ongoing trial in Manila for Andal Ampatuan Jnr, the clan patriarch’s son and namesake, said he gunned down most of the victims.


President Benigno Aquino declared Tuesday a “day of remembrance” and ordered government employees to wear black to symbolise unity with the victims’ relatives.


“Today we again offer our condolences to the families of the victims and vow to do everything in our power to achieve a timely resolution of this case and ensure this does not happen again,” Aquino said in a statement.


At the massacre site, religious leaders led prayers during an emotional service in which white doves and balloons were released to remember the victims.


Radio and television stations across the country also silenced their broadcasts for 58 seconds at 7:00 am to remember those killed and urge authorities to speed up the prosecutions of those accused.


Although the death toll is officially 57, a 33rd journalist, Humberto Mumay, is believed to have been killed as well.


Mumay’s death would bring the toll to 58 but the Ampatuans are being prosecuted for only 57 murders because Mumay’s body has not been found and he is officially declared as missing.


Ampatuan Snr and Jnr, and four other clan leaders, have been charged and are behind bars.


But Ampatuan Jnr is the only clan leader whose trial has begun and there are fears the court proceedings in the Philippines’ notoriously over-burdened justice system could last for years.


Meanwhile, many members of the Ampatuans’ private army remain on the loose and allegedly can receive calls from their leaders to stage attacks in an effort to eliminate or intimidate witnesses.


“They remain very dangerous and can receive instructions any time (from the Ampatuan leaders) through mobile phones,” Mangudadatu, the rival politician and now provincial governor, told AFP.


Human rights groups have said at least one key prosecution witness has been killed.


The Ampatuans deny being involved in any killings.


The Ampatuans had ruled Maguindanao with the support of then president Gloria Arroyo, who supplied the family’s private militia of up to 5,000 men so they could be used as a proxy force against Muslim separatist rebels.


However, rights watchdogs say Aquino, who took office on June 30 this year, must also address the bigger picture of abolishing all private armies run by politicians across the country.


The government still funds and arms some of these militias to supplement the under-resourced military, and critics say Aquino has either been unwilling or unable to disband the militias.


“The fact that private armies continue to operate a year after the Maguindanao massacre is an affront to the victims and an invitation to further disasters,” said Amnesty International’s Asia director, Sam Zafiri.

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Source: SGGP

Philippines makes arrests, seizes explosives amid alert

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 10:53 am

Laos and the Philippines qualify for AFF Cup

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 at 1:39 am




Laos and the Philippines qualify for AFF Cup


QĐND – Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 20:41 (GMT+7)

PANO – The national football teams of Laos and the Philippines will take part in the coming ASEAN Football Championship, The AFF-Suzuky Cup, after defeating Cambodia and East Timor, respectively, at the qualifying round, according to the Vietnam Football Federation.


The Laotian team will play against Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia in group A while the Cambodian team will compete with Vietnam, Singapore and Myanmar in group B.


The coming tournament, taking place in Indonesia and Vietnam from December 1st to 29th, is expected to attract a lot of spectators and fans in ASEAN.


* The Vietnamese team is training hard for the tournament, despite some key players having some injuries.


To prepare for the tournament, the team will take part in the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) Cup from November 2nd to 6th with teams from the Republic of Korea, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Singapore.


Translated by Duy Minh


Source: QDND

Philippines, Norway vaults saving rice diversity

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2010 at 12:02 pm

AFP/File – A farmer separates rice grains from husks on a farm near Manila.

LOS BANOS, Philippines (AFP) – In a greenhouse near the Philippine capital, botanists grow strange grasses that bear tiny seeds which are promptly flown to a doomsday vault under Norway’s Arctic permafrost.


The Norway deliveries are just the newest facet of a decades-old effort by more than 100 countries to save the world’s many varieties of rice which might otherwise be lost.


A fire-proof, quake-proof, typhoon-proof gene bank set up by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines in 1962 now holds 115,000 varieties of one of the world’s most important grains.


“We’ve got genes stored which could potentially help us increase the yields of rice, improve pest tolerance and disease resistance, and help us address the effects of climate change,” IRRI geneticist Fiona Hay said.


The rice varieties are grown at IRRI’s sprawling complex at the university town of Los Banos, two hours’ drive south of Manila, so that they can be provided — free of charge — to farmers or governments around the world.


Yet Hay said that rice varieties were constantly being lost forever, despite the preservation efforts of IRRI, a non-profit organisation funded by governments, multilateral banks and philanthropists.


Such losses are under a global spotlight this week as delegates from more than 190 countries meet at a UN summit in Nagoya, Japan, to map out a strategy to stop the world’s rapid loss of biodiversity in all plants and animals.


A rice variety can easily vanish due to pests, disease, drought or other natural disasters like a cyclone, or if for some reason farmers simply stop planting it, Hay said.


Not just urbanisation, but even farming can push wild rice varieties into extinction.


And while some countries run their own gene banks, they are not always successful in preserving seeds. In the tropics, high humidity causes rice seeds to spoil after several years, Hay said.


At the IRRI gene bank in the Philippines, seeds are stored in dry and cool conditions and can remain usable for up to 40 years.


The institute keeps its base collection in tiny, sealed, bar-coded aluminium cans in a room kept at a temperature well below freezing.


They include a Malaysian variety that was collected soon after the gene bank opened in 1962, some reed-like Latin American ones that grow taller than a man, and Indian varieties that look more like crawling weeds.


Duplicates in small foil sachets of about 400 seeds each are stored in a separate vault kept at two degrees Celsius (35.6 Fahrenheit) and low humidity for passing on to those who need them for farming or research.


Given the importance of the collection, extra insurance is always desirable — hence the rice gene bank being duplicated in Svalbard, Norway, Hay told AFP on a tour last week of the Philippine facility.


Since the Svalbard seed vault opened in February 2008, IRRI has reproduced 70,000 of its own grains and sent them in tiny freeze-dried aluminium cans to northern Norway, in a series of flights that take four days.


One final delivery of about 40,000 varieties is due to be flown out from Manila airport this week to complete the project.


The seeds include those no longer grown by farmers, plus 4,000-odd weeds with genes harnessed by scientists to make the rice plant more aromatic and more resistant to pests and disease, and tolerant of drought and saltwater.


Once completed, the Norway facility will act as a further backup to a US Department of Agriculture vault in Colorado that already holds duplicates of IRRI’s seeds.


IRRI has in particular helped Cambodia’s farmers to recover from the ravages of war. The Khmer Rouge regime killed millions of people — many through starvation — and forced farmers to grow only certain rice varieties in the 1970s.


Flora de Guzman, senior research manager of the gene bank, said she had once processed a request by Cambodia to send back seeds for about 500 of their native rice varieties.


“They lost the materials during the war. We had the collection here, so between 1981 and 1989 we repatriated the varieties that they lost,” she said.

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Source: SGGP

Relief workers try to reach Megi survivors in Philippines

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2010 at 11:04 am

CAUAYAN, Philippines, Oct 20, 2010 (AFP) – Typhoon Megi inched away from the Philippines on Wednesday after killing 19 people, as relief workers scrambled to deliver aid to remote towns that were devastated by the storm.


The governor of the hardest-hit province of Isabela, Faustino Dy said that residents in three coastal towns had suffered massive damage to their homes and were left with limited food supplies after huge waves washed away roads.

Volunteers help clear mudslide near a house in Baguio City, Benguet province, north of Manila on October 20, 2010. AFP

“Their food supply is only up to Sunday. But going there is very difficult. There is no road to reach them,” Dy told reporters in Cauayan, the closest city to the worst-hit towns.


Dy, who had flown by helicopter to the devastated areas, said that as many as 20,000 people were affected.


Many of them had survived by fleeing into the mountains before Megi hit, he and other officials said.


Regional social welfare chief Arnel Garcia said the government planned to send food and tents to the affected towns of Maconacon, Palanan and Divilacan but that both air and sea travel were dangerous.


“Helicopters have to pass through the mountains and the mountain ranges are often covered with clouds,” Garcia said.


US ambassador Harry Thomas said in a statement that US military personnel and equipment that was already in the Philippines for a joint exercise would be diverted for typhoon relief.


“My embassy team is in constant contact with Philippine authorities and NGO (non-governmental organisation) representatives to determine how we can be of further assistance,” Thomas said in a statement issued by the embassy.


Megi smashed mostly farming and fishing areas of northern Luzon with gusts of 260 kilometres (160 miles) an hour on Monday, making it the strongest typhoon in the world this year.


The three million residents of Isabela province and other areas of the Cagayan Valley farming region were the worst hit.


The government raised the death toll to 19 on Wednesday, up from 14 the previous day, after more detailed reports from around Luzon were compiled.


The civil defence bureau said it was still sheltering over 10,000 people in evacuation centres across northern Luzon while roads were being cleared.


Although the typhoon was already over the South China Sea, the government weather station said it had remained almost stationary on Wednesday, hovering over the western coast of the Philippines.


The typhoon, which is still packing maximum gusts of 210 kilometres (130 miles) per hour, is expected to continue hovering throughout the day before moving northeast towards southern China, the weather station said.


The first level of a four-step storm alert remained in effect over several provinces in the northern Philippines due to continuing rain from the typhoon.

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Source: SGGP

Typhoon Megi claims 10 lives in the Philippines

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 at 4:22 pm

The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in years killed at least 10 people as it generated waves as big as houses and destroyed swathes of vital rice crops, authorities said Tuesday.


Many areas in the north of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon remained without power and communications facilities, a day after Super Typhoon Megi ripped over the region with wind gusts of 260 kilometres (161 miles) an hour.


The strong winds had subsided by Tuesday as Megi headed out to sea and towards China, although heavy rains continued to fall across large parts of Luzon for a second straight day.


Rescuers were also struggling to reach isolated areas, particularly in the heavily hit coastal communities of Isabela province that bore the brunt of the typhoon, officials said.

A resident carries his dog while wading through floodwaters as super Typhoon Megi, known locally as Juan, hits Cabangan City, Isabela province, northern Philippines October 18, 2010.

“The waves in Maconacon were as big as houses and swamped the town plaza facing the Pacific Ocean,” Isabela governor Faustino Dy said over DZBB radio as he appealed for help.


Dy said water, food and medicine were desperately needed in Maconacon, a village of about 4,000 people that remained isolated and only accessible by helicopter or by small boat.


Three people in Maconacon drowned in the storm surge and many others were wounded on Monday, he said.


Dy said he could not give a full report of the damage to all coastal areas because the 240-kilometre northeastern shoreline of Isabela remained difficult to reach.


But he said nearly 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of rice and corn crops had been destroyed across Isabela, one of the Philippines’ key farming regions.


Elsewhere in Luzon, four people were reported killed in Pagansinan province, three of them by a collapsed structure and the other by lightning, the Red Cross said.


The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Manila had earlier reported three people killed elsewhere in Luzon.


However, after thousands of people had been evacuated well before Megi struck as part of intense preparations that involved the military, there were hopes the death toll would not climb substantially.


The northern parts of Luzon are mostly agricultural and fishing areas, with a few million residents who are well-drilled in preparing for the many storms that hit each year.


“We are hoping that the casualties remain low,” Red Cross secretary general Gwen Pang told AFP.

Motorists drive past a filling station which was toppled by typhoon Megi (local name ‘Juan’) Monday Oct.18, 2010 at Cauayan, Isabelaprovince in northeastern Philippines

“We can’t say it will not go up, but people were more prepared this time.


“What we are expecting is more reports of heavy damage. There are still many areas without power and communications, while some roads are cut off by landslides.”


About 7,900 people in the northern regions of Luzon remained in evacuation centres on Tuesday, the government said, and many areas remained inaccessible because of debris littering the roads.


Megi exited the Philippines’ western coast at midnight (1600 GMT) on Monday, and on Tuesday morning was heading towards Hong Kong and China with wind gusts of up to 195 kilometres an hour, according to the Philippine weather bureau.

Preparing for the storm, China issued a national early disaster warning for regions along the southern coast — Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan.

Hainan island had already been hard-hit by heavy rains in recent weeks.

Authorities called on officials in the Chinese provinces to ensure that people in low-lying areas are evacuated early.

Manila’s state weather bureau said Megi was the strongest typhoon since Typhoon Durian triggered deadly mudslides in the Philippines’ eastern Bicol region in 2006, killing over 1,000 people.

The Philippines is hit with an average of 20 typhoons a year.

Source: SGGP

One dead as Typhoon Megi hits Philippines: govt

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2010 at 6:24 am

MANILA, Oct 18, 2010 (AFP) – Typhoon Megi claimed its first victim in the Philippines on Monday with authorities reporting that a fisherman had drowned as the storm brought heavy rain and strong winds.


The man drowned in a river in the northern city of Tuguegarao on Monday morning as Megi approached the area, the nation’s civil defence chief, Benito Ramos, told reporters.

Military rescuers and volunteers prepare life-saving equipments at Camp Aguinaldo in Manila on October 17, 2010. AFP

The northeastern provinces of Cagayan, in which Tuguegarao is situated, and Isabela, were the first to feel the impacts of the typhoon.


Megi, dubbed a “super-typhoon” by government relief agencies, was just off the northeastern coast of the Philippines at 11:30 (0330 GMT), packing wind gusts of up to 260 kilometres per hour, the government weather station said.


Megi was expected to cut across the northern part of Luzon throughout Monday, then exit out towards Vietnam on Tuesday, the weather station said.


The highest level of a four-step storm alert was raised over Isabela and surrounding provinces while lower alerts were in effect over most of Luzon.


Isabela and other provinces in Megi’s direct path are mostly agricultural and fishing areas, with a few million residents who are well-drilled in preparing for the many storms that hit each year.


Over 3,000 people had already been moved from their homes in the northern provinces as part of a “pre-emptive evacuation” of threatened areas, the civil defence office said.


Flights to and from northern Luzon were also suspended and ships there were told not to leave port.


Military, police and relief agencies had positioned supplies and rescue units to provide swift assistance to any affected areas, the civil defence office reported.


Rubber boats, large trucks, heavy equipment and rescue divers were all on standby, ready to be dispatched to areas hit by floods or blocked by landslides, the office said.


The US military and UN representatives were also due to meet with President Benigno Aquino to see how they could help, GMA television reported.


The Philippines is battered by an average of 20 typhoons a year, some of them deadly.


More than 1,100 people were killed when tropical storm Ketsana and typhoon Parma struck Luzon within a week of each other in September and October last year, triggering the worst flooding in recent history.

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Source: SGGP

Super typhoon roars towards Philippines

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2010 at 2:24 am

MANILA (AFP) – Typhoon Megi gathered strength as it barrelled towards the northern Philippines on Monday, with authorities evacuating thousands of villagers to safer ground hours before it was to hit land.

Military rescuers and volunteers prepare life-saving equipment at Camp Aguinaldo in Manila. AFP

State weather forecasters said Megi has developed into a super typhoon and was expected to slam into the extreme northern Philippines by Monday and then cut westwards towards the East Sea (Vietnam).


It was then expected to hit China, becoming the country’s strongest typhoon this year and prompting the weather agency to issue its second-highest level of alert, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.


China warned its vessels to take shelter in ports and urged local authorities to prepare for emergencies caused by wind and rain, the report said.


Megi could uproot trees, blow away houses made of light material, trigger landslides and cause storm surges in coastal areas, Philippine authorities said as they began evacuating people from vulnerable areas.


It is expected to hit the northern province of Cagayan on Monday, and as of Sunday afternoon was already 450 kilometres (388 miles) east of the area, the state weather bureau said.


The storm was packing maximum winds of 195 kilometres an hour near the centre and gusts of up to 230 kilometres an hour, making it a super typhoon, forecasters said.


“Some are still gauging the situation, but those who are living in low areas have voluntarily gone to higher ground,” said Benito Ramos, head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.


He said thousands of people have already temporarily relocated from communities along the Cagayan river system, which had overflowed during previous typhoons.


President Benigno Aquino ordered all government agencies to be on high alert to prevent casualties, while the coast guard was instructed to ban all fishing vessels from setting off to sea in the north.


“The president is reiterating that all agencies concerned should be ready for the approaching super typhoon Juan (Megi),” said Abigail Valte, a deputy spokeswoman for Aquino.


She warned the public against complacency, amid reports that the weather in some northern provinces remained clear as of early Sunday.


But Norma Talosig, regional chief of the Office of Civil Defence, said the government was not ruling out forced evacuation for those who refused to leave their homes despite being told to do so.


“If we have to conduct forced evacuations, we’ll do it for their safety,” Talosig said over national radio. “Our main objective is the safety of the community, the safety of the responders.”


In Manila, disaster officials said food packs, medicine and rescue equipment, including rubber boats, were ready in areas expected to be lashed by the typhoon.


National police spokesman Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said additional search and rescue teams from Manila were en route to the north to bolster forces there.


“We have also declared a full alert status all over the country,” Cruz said.


Relief charities were also mobilising in preparation for any damage by the typhoon.


“We have prepositioned goods as well as a standby supplier for rice in case people will be evacuated here in Isabela. We will continue to monitor the typhoon,” said Fe Olonan, World Vision program manager in Isabela — a province of Luzon which is on high-alert.


The Philippines is battered by an average of 20 typhoons a year, some of them deadly.


Tropical Storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma struck the northern Philippine island of Luzon within a week of each other in September and October last year, triggering the worst flooding in recent history.


The twin storms killed more than 1,000 people, affected nearly 10 million and caused damage worth 4.3 billion dollars according to the World Bank and international humanitarian agencies.


The US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center in its latest advisory Sunday said Megi had undergone “rapid intensification”, but could weaken as it moves across mountainous terrain after hitting Luzon.


Megi would then begin to steadily re-intensify as it leaves the country heading for the East Sea (Vietnam), it said.

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Source: SGGP

Super typhoon roars towards Philippines

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 10:24 am

Typhoon Megi gathered strength as it barrelled towards the northern Philippines on Sunday, authorities warning of possible forced evacuations and the threat of landslides.


Megi, which has developed into a super typhoon, was expected to be the strongest typhoon of the year in China, forecasters there said, according to the state Xinhua news agency.


The Philippine state weather bureau said Megi, likely to make landfall in the country by Monday, could uproot trees, blow away houses made of light material, trigger landslides and cause storm surges in coastal areas.

A pedestrian jumps over a puddle in a flooded street in Manila on October 16, 2010

As of 11:00 am (0300 GMT), the typhoon was located 520 kilometres (322 miles) east of Cagayan province, on the northeastern coast of the main island of Luzon.


It packed maximum winds of 195 kilometres per hour near the centre and gusts of up to 230 kilometres per hour. Public storm alert warnings have already been hoisted over several northern Philippine provinces.


Norma Talosig, regional chief of the Office of Civil Defence, said the weather was deceptively calm over Cagayan on Sunday, although they expect it to change drastically within the day.


She said residents in low-lying areas as well as those in coastal communities were being advised to move to safer areas and if they refused they would be forcibly evacuated.


“If we have to conduct forced evacuations, we’ll do it for their (residents’) safety,” Talosig said over national radio. “Our main objective is the safety of the community, the safety of the responders.”


In Manila, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said food packs, medicine and rescue equipment, including rubber boats, are ready in areas expected to be lashed by the typhoon.


Council chief Benito Ramos said “preemptive evacuations” were being carried out in some townships in Cagayan, including near rivers that could overflow their banks.


National police spokesman Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said additional search and rescue teams from Manila were en route to the north to bolster forces there.


“We have also declared a full alert status all over the country,” Cruz said.


The Philippines is battered by an estimated 20 typhoons a year, some of them deadly.


Tropical Storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma struck Luzon within a week of each other in late September and early October last year, triggering the worst flooding in recent history.


The twin storms killed more than a thousand people, affected nearly 10 million and caused damage worth 4.3 billion dollars according to the World Bank and international humanitarian agencies.


China’s National Meteorological Center said Megi was expected to enter the South China Sea on Monday and could cause wild winds and huge waves in the next three days, Xinhua said.

Source: SGGP