Sunday, October 04, 2009

Latest typhoon kills 4 in Philippines, churns away

By JIM GOMEZ, Associated Press Writer

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines military rushed Sunday toward villages cut off by floodwaters from Asia's latest deadly storm, which killed at least four across the northern part of the country but spared the capital.

Typhoon Parma was churning through the South China Sea as troops in southern Taiwan helped to evacuate villages that could be hit next. The Central Weather Bureau said Parma should miss the island, but it could still bring heavy rain to flood- and landslide-prone areas still recovering from a deadly typhoon in August.

Tens of thousands of Filipinos fled to higher ground as Parma bore down on the main island of Luzon just eight days after an earlier storm left Manila awash in the worst flooding in four decades, killing almost 300 people.

Winds of 108 mph (175 kph) battered towns in half a dozen provinces, and downpours swelled rivers to bursting, officials said.

In Isabela province, one man drowned and another died from exposure to the cold and wet weather, said Lt. Col. Loreto Magundayao of an army division based there.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said another two people died in eastern Camarines Sur, as one man fell from a roof and a 2-year-old boy drowned.

About 14 villages at the mouth of the Cagayan River were flooded when a seawall collapsed, forcing some residents to clamber onto their roofs, the mayor of nearby Aparri town told The Associated Press.

"A few of these floods were at roof level," he said. "Some people were on roofs and some of them were evacuated last night, but the rescuers were not able to reach others immediately."

The navy was bringing rubber boats to try to rescue people still stranded, he said.

Power, phone lines and internet links were down across the north, making it difficult to get reports about the extent of damage, Armand Araneta, a civil defense official responsible for several northern provinces, told the AP.

"We really got the brunt of the wind," he said by phone from Tuguegarao city, capital of Cagayan province. "Many trees fell here. The winds knocked down cables, telephone lines — even our windows got shattered by the strong winds."

Manila escaped the worst of the storm. On Sept. 26, Tropical Storm Ketsana killed at least 288 people and damaged the homes of 3 million. Ketsana went on to kill 99 in Vietnam, 14 in Cambodia and 16 in Laos.

Parma was part of more than a week of destruction in the Asia-Pacific region: an earthquake Wednesday in Indonesia, a tsunami Tuesday in the Samoan islands, and Ketsana.

Another typhoon, Melor, was churning Sunday in the Philippine Sea, 1,600 miles (2,575 kilometers) to the east.

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Associated Press writers Oliver Teves in Manila and Debby Wu in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.

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