9 killed, 10 fishermen missing as typhoon lashes Philippines, causes outages, cancels flights

By Oliver Teves, AP
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

9 killed, 10 missing as typhoon lashes Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — The first typhoon to lash the Philippines this year flooded streets in the capital, toppled power lines and killed at least nine people Wednesday. Ten fishermen were missing after waves overturned their boats.

More than half of the main northern island of Luzon, which includes Manila, was without electricity, and authorities said it would take two to three days to restore power. Several dozen flights were canceled, and schools and many government offices closed.

Elsewhere in Asia, heavy rains wreaked havoc in China and Japan. The death toll from rain-triggered landslides rose to 37 in western China, and workers raced to drain overflowing reservoirs in the southeast. Flooding has killed 107 people in China so far this month, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Storms also lashed southern and western Japan, leaving one dead and three missing. A woman drowned in a swollen river, and three people, including two women in their 70s, were missing, according to officials. Nearly 10,000 homes were evacuated.

More rain was predicted into Thursday in both Japan and China.

In the Philippines, Typhoon Conson came ashore on the east coast of Luzon on Tuesday night with winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kilometers per hour), said weather forecaster Bernie de Leon. It weakened to a tropical storm as it crossed the rice-growing island and then buffeted Manila on Luzon’s west coast for two hours.

The storm headed out to the South China Sea before dawn and is next expected to make landfall later this week in China, west of Macau.

The nine deaths were spread over three provinces south of Manila.

In Batangas province, a 47-year-old woman was electrocuted by a power line that snapped, and a 12-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother died after a large mango tree crashed into their home as they slept, said regional disaster operations officer Fred Bragas.

In nearby Cavite province, a woman and her daughter were killed by a falling tree, Bragas said. Another child drowned after falling into a raging river, provincial spokesman Filomeno Maligaya told DZBB radio.

At least three people were killed in Camarines Norte province, southeast of Manila, said military spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc. He gave no details.

He added that authorities and civilian volunteers on Wednesday rescued nine of 19 fishermen who had disappeared when big waves overturned their boats off the island province of Catanduanes.

Up to 3,100 people were stranded in ports waiting for the weather to clear.

In Manila, the storm brought down branches and trees and scattered trash. Winds ripped tarpaulin billboards along main roads and blew off the roofs of coastal shanties. The national disaster council reported knee-deep floods in some communities in the capital.

The Manila International Airport Authority said 63 flights, including four international ones, had been canceled and nine had been diverted to the central Philippine international airport since late Tuesday.

Classes were suspended in schools and most universities in Manila. Several government offices, including the Senate, closed because of the power outage. Thousands of commuters were stranded when the blackouts disrupted train services. Many hotels and shopping malls were relying on their own generators.

Newly elected President Benigno Aquino III scolded the weather bureau for failing to predict that the storm would hit Manila.

“I hope this is the last time we are all brought to areas different from where we should be,” Aquino told officials during a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, noting that government agencies were relying on the weather bureau for their preparations.

Weather bureau chief Prisco Nilo explained that it takes forecasters six hours to update weather bulletins. The weather bureau has complained of lack of funding and equipment.

Associated Press writers Jim Gomez, Teresa Cerojano, Hrvoje Hranjski, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Chi-Chi Zhang in Beijing contributed to this report.

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