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Power restored in Philippine capital after typhoon rampage

world Updated: Jul 16, 2010 12:15 IST

AFP
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Power was finally restored throughout the Philippine capital on Friday, more than two days after a typhoon hit the country with unexpected ferocity, killing at least 39 people.

However the search continued for up to 47 people, most of them fishermen, still missing in the wake of Typhoon Conson, which slammed into the archipelago late Tuesday and then cut through the main island of Luzon on Wednesday.

The storm, packing wind gusts of 120 kilometres (74 miles) an hour, knocked out electrical services for the 12 million residents of metro Manila, bringing the country's capital and economic centre to a near standstill.

Manila and surrounding areas were still forced to endure rotating blackouts on Thursday, but the Manila Electric Co (Meralco) said Friday that power was back to all parts of the city.

"All mainline circuits have been restored," said Meralco spokeswoman Dina Lomotan. Business groups welcomed the end to the power outages, which had cost the country's economy hundreds of millions of dollars.

"The businessmen are all very glad that things are being acted upon very quickly and that the (outages) did not last too many days," said Jose Alejandro, head of the energy committee of the Philippine chamber of commerce.

Lengthy power interruptions would have had a serious impact as exporters were already working to fill orders for the Christmas season, he told the news agency.

Alejandro said businesses were caught unprepared after the government weather station predicted the storm would largely miss Manila and hit the northern provinces instead. The National Disaster Coordinating Council said in its latest bulletin on Friday morning that 38 people had been confirmed dead, with 47 missing.

The coast goard reported a few hours later that another floating body had been retrieved, bringing the death toll to 39.

Coast guard personnel said they could not identify the body, found in the waters northwest of Manila, and so could not tell whether it was one of the 47 listed as missing. Vessels are still at sea, scouring the waters for the missing.

The Philippines is in the so-called typhoon belt of the Pacific. Up to 20 typhoons sweep through the country each year, killing hundreds of people.