Millions of people in the Philippine capital and its neighboring provinces remained without electricity late Thursday in the wake of Typhoon Rammasun, which has killed at least 40 people.
“We may have to check in a hotel tonight. My wife and son both have asthma, and it’s tough for them to sleep without air conditioning,” said Rey Infante, a currency dealer with a local bank who lives in the capital’s neighboring town of Taytay.
“We’ve been without power for two days now. Surely, our food will go stale,” he added.
Manila Electric Co. MER.PH -1.18% said Thursday that a third of its 5.3 million customers—equivalent to roughly 25 million people—had no power as of late Thursday but that almost all would get it by late Friday. The company distributes electricity to Manila and other provinces that together account for half of the country’s gross domestic product. (Watch Typhoon Rammasun’s movements and forecast.).
Rammasun was the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan last November, which killed more than 6,000 people.
Rammasun made landfall in Albay province Tuesday evening before crossing several provinces south of Manila on Wednesday and out to the South China Sea. More than half a million people fled to government shelters, though authorities said most had returned home by Thursday.
Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said damaged transmission lines in the southern provinces in the Luzon island group, where Rammasun first made landfall, had isolated major power plants, starving the Luzon grid of 55% of its electricity-generation capacity.
“The distribution lines may be OK, but the supply may not come (until late Friday) because southern plants cannot bring power to Metro Manila,” Mr. Petilla told a news conference.
Rammasun, which in Thai means “thunder god,” barreled through metropolitan Manila, the southern provinces of Luzon island group and parts of central Philippines with howling winds that gusted up to 185 kilometers an hour, toppling electric poles, uprooting trees and destroying concrete walls.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Thursday the death toll from Rammasun is at least 40, while the injured and missing number 17 and four, respectively.
In Albay and Quezon, two of the southern provinces hardest hit by the typhoon, government officials told The Wall Street Journal that nearly all their evacuation centers had emptied. Authorities have proceeded to the relief and rehabilitation phase.
“People were eager to leave the evacuation centers so they could start repairing their damaged homes,” said Matt Florido, an executive assistant to Quezon Gov. David Suarez.
Mr. Florido and other officials have been in Quezon’s capitol building since Tuesday, when Rammasun unleashed its full wrath.
“We were cringing in fear. We composed ourselves with the thought that there are people out there who need our help,” he said.
He said preliminary reports showed 19 people were killed in Quezon.
Cedric Daep, head of Albay’s public safety and emergency management office, said early estimates of damaged coconut, rice, corn and other agricultural crops totaled $36 million, and losses to households and infrastructure reached $69 million.
Mr. Daep said all the major roads in the province have been cleared of debris and fallen trees.
“But we still have no power,” he said.
Khristine Cabayanan, who works in a multinational pharmaceutical firm and lives in the town of Imus, said she and her family were awakened at dawn Wednesday by Rammasun’s strong winds.
“It felt like the roof of our house would be torn off. But I was more concerned with the rain,” said Ms. Cabayanan, who is pregnant with her third child. “I feared our house will be flooded again, just like last year (at the height of the Northwest monsoon). Thankfully, it didn’t.”
The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration spotted another weather disturbance in the Pacific Ocean, west of the southern region of Mindanao. Weather experts said there is a high probability the disturbance will develop into a storm when it enters Philippine waters late Friday.
* Text by Cris Larano and Josephine Cuneta , wsj , July 17, 2014