Eighteen fishermen were reported missing and nearly 2,000 were stranded in ports in the Philippines as Typhoon Conson battered the country’s eastern coast, officials said on Tuesday.
The fishermen reportedly went out to sea to fish off the province of Samar, despite advisories against sailing due the typhoon, coastguard spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo said.
“They know a typhoon was approaching, but they still went on fishing,” Balilo said, adding that the coastguard has launched search and rescue operations for the fishermen in coordination with local governments.
Conson has weakened into a severe tropical storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 100 kilometres per hour (km/h) and gusts of up to 125 km/h, after making at least four landfalls since Monday night, the weather bureau said.
It was moving west-north-west at 15 km/h, and was projected to pass through the capital region of Metro Manila later this week, it added.
At least 1,956 passengers were stranded in ports in the regions of Bicol and Eastern Visayas, which was pummelled by Coson’s heavy rains and strong winds overnight.
Disaster relief officials have so far not reported any casualties in the typhoon’s onslaught, but massive power outages were reported in the eastern provinces of Samar, Leyte, Eastern Samar and Southern Leyte.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 tropical cyclones every year.
The strongest typhoon to hit the country was Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people and displaced more than 4 million in November 2013.